“If our only joy came from winning, we would be miserable”
Showjumper Bruce Goodin:

By Line Holm Rasmussen // Photo: FEI

He has participated in the Olympics five times, has lived in many different countries, and is still riding at a very high level. All of these statements fit Bruce Goodin. In this article, you will get insights into his way to where he is now – and how he manages to stay there.  

Bruce Goodin is a professional showjumper, and he is one of New Zealand’s most successful sportsmen. He has competed at a very high level for many years and participated in his first Olympics in 1992. His most recent Olympics was in Tokyo 2020, held in 2021. He is currently based in Sweden, where he and his wife, Ulrika, have their own stable. Here they are building their business based on their passion for the sport, and they are training horses to the highest level in showjumping.

Bruce Goodin

Photo: Libby Law

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Photo: Libby Law

So, if our only joy came from winning, we would be miserable.

Photo: Helen Cruden

If I wanted to be in top of the sport, I had to be where the top of the sport is.

Advice for equestrians, who dream of the Olympics 
Bruce’s greatest advice for riders, who wish to compete in the Olympics is; “Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most people are more than willing to help. So, just pick the brains of those who have already been there. And remember to keep trying to improve – there is always a lot that you can learn. When you start to think that you know it all, you will fall behind.”

The equestrian world in different countries 
Bruce has lived in many different countries over the years, and have experienced the equestrian world in all of these countries. This also means that he has seen the differences in the equestrian world, and he says; “There are quite some differences, and it all goes back to the history of the country – not only the horse history but also in general. And then it depends on the mentality – does the country have more of a farming or trading background?” He also explains that there is a difference in how people deal with the horses and where their focus is. Now he lives in Sweden, which he is very fond of; “I enjoy living in Sweden, and I think that it is a very horse friendly country in general.” He is also very impressed with the Swedish equestrians, who are doing really good in the sport. He explains them as; “Progressive - they do not get stuck in old ways. This is a part of the reason why the Swedes have such success in the sport. They are always trying to improve the sport, which it definitely has during the past 20 years.” Bruce has also lived in England, which he also seemed to enjoy – especially the lovely countryside. His own homeland, New Zealand, is according to him, also an amazing country to have horses in, as the horses can grow up outside – all year long, which results in some very healthy horses. But the problem, that Bruce faced, when he was still living in New Zealand, was that it was far away from all of the big competitions. This was the reason why he decided to move; “If I wanted to be in top of the sport, I had to be where the top of the sport was.” This is one of the things he loves about Europe – a lot of different people from many different countries participate in all of the big competitions. Bruce explains that this is part of lifting the national level; “It is easier to raise your own standards, when you are around the top – then you get to see the level that you want to rise to,” he concludes. 

Best tip for jumping 
When asked for his best tip for  jumping, Bruce immediately answers by saying; “It is really important to have practiced good flatwork”, and elaborates by telling about a sentence, he has hold onto for many years; “It is not the jump, you’re trying to improve, it is the way you’re trying to get the horse to jump, you’re trying to improve”. In his words, it is all of the work in the background that ends up improving the actual jump, for instance a great canter. So, the flatwork is essential. He even points out some of the top riders in the discipline, and says that their level of flatwork is
really high. 

When asked about his personal favorite way of training, he is also quick to reply; “I like to do groundwork. Working with the horse and building the communication with it from the ground. That’s also what makes it easier for the horse to know what you mean, when you’re on top of them. It makes the job much easier.” He further explains, that doing the groundwork also gives you important insights into how the horses react, when you ask them for different things, and you therefore get to know them better. Besides this, Bruce also – obviously – loves jumping, and in the everyday training he enjoys smaller jumps where he focusses on getting the horse to relax. 

Staying in the game 
When asked the question “How have you stayed in the game for such a long time?” Bruce answers easily by saying “Well, I have a passion for it. And I still believe that I am, and still can improve. I’m looking for improving all the time. That makes the riding more and more enjoyable”. It is clear that it is the focus on improving both himself and his horses that keeps him engaged with the sport, and he always try to look for new things to do; “I find new ways of working with the horses and I find pleasure in seeing the horses improve. Like this weekend for example, I didn’t win any prices, but the horses did really well and I'm really happy with that. I got one tear, but I understood the reason behind it.”

He further goes on to take a look at the discipline in general and says; “When you look at the most successful riders, they don’t even win all the time – they win, but not all of the competitions that they participate in. This sport is very different from for instance running, where you expect Usain Bolt to win every time. That’s not the case with jumping. So, if our only joy came from winning, we would be miserable.” So, it is the passion for working with the horses that drives Bruce to do it every single day. 

Health 
Besides this, Bruce also takes his own health into consideration, and he practice both running and specific exercises to stay in good shape. “I’m not getting any younger, and I have to be in good shape to be competitive with the younger guys.” He is also very conscious of what he eats and drinks, and he explains that cutting out gluten in his diet really made a difference. He also stressed the fact, that this is not only on the regular days, but also the competition days – he focuses on eating stuff, that makes him feel the best. 

As for Bruce’s best advice for staying in the game for such a long time, he says; 

  • Staying healthy.
  • Enjoying the work with the horses and having the passion for it is the most important – that should be your drive to be in the sport. Of course, you also need a competitive side, but the passion is more essential.
  • Constantly look for new horses and keep up with improvements and changes.  

Photo: Helen Cruden

When you start to think that you know it all, you will fall behind. 

We have had the pleasure of talking with Bruce, who had just returned from yet another competition, when we called him up. He was very happy about how the competition went – he didn’t win any of his classes, but said that his horses did really well, so he was very pleased. Now you have the chance to get to know him better and get insights into how he has stayed at such a high level for such a long period of time.  

Getting into the sport 
Bruce grew up on a dairy farm in New Zealand, and his father (David Goodin) was a rider. Therefore, Bruce was only a baby, when he first sat on a horse. Bruce says that he wasn’t really that into horse riding when he was younger, at least not until the age of 14-15. He says; “When I was around 15, something just clicked”. According to him, he didn’t love horse riding – probably because he wasn’t very good at it; “My friends were quite successful, but I wasn’t”. But since the age of 15, he got better and better and therefore also more successful. Besides this, Bruce always had a passion for animals, and he felt a very strong connection with the horses. But at that age, he also thought that it was a lot of work, since there was so much to do; “It was kind of a hassle, and there were a lot of chores”. But as he grew older, he started to appreciate these chores and actually enjoy all of the work. After he left high school, he started riding full time. 

Bruce started out with both jumping and eventing, as eventing is a very popular discipline in New Zealand. But when he was around 17-18, he decided to focus mainly on jumping, as he loved the fact that jumping is a bit more simple and not subjective – either you go fast or you don’t, and you either have a flawless round or you don’t. 

Participating in the Olympics – 5 times 
Bruce is no stranger in the Olympics, in fact, he has participated in them no less than five times! When asked, what year he had the best experience, his answer was; “Probably in Sydney (2000). It was a great experience”. He highlighted the Olympics in Sydney both because it went really well for him, and because he felt very welcome there; “A lot of people from New Zealand came over, and Sydney is a great city. The people there were so welcoming and you could tell that they really wanted to have the Olympics there.” He also told a story of having breakfast at a café with a friend, and as he was about to pay, he was stopped as the people in the café wanted to pay for his breakfast. Bruce was reluctant and said no to the very kind offer, but they insisted and said that it would be their pleasure to pay for an Olympic participant’s breakfast. 

On the contrary to this lovely experience, Bruce also explains that in some cities, where the Olympics have been held, people haven’t been so happy about it. People know how much it costs and they are not really happy about hosting the competitions. But as Bruce has gone back to some of these places, he has rediscovered just how friendly the people have been. In general, it is quite important for Bruce to feel welcome in the countries he visits for competitions. It makes the entire experience better and makes him want to return again and again.

Photo: Libby Law

Bruce Goodin is a professional showjumper, and he is one of New Zealand’s most successful sportsmen. He has competed at a very high level for many years and participated in his first Olympics in 1992. His most recent Olympics was in Tokyo 2020, held in 2021. He is currently based in Sweden, where he and his wife, Ulrika, have their own stable. Here they are building their business based on their passion for the sport, and they are training horses to the highest level in showjumping.

Bruce Goodin

By Line Holm Rasmussen // Photo: FEI

He has participated in the Olympics five times, has lived in many different countries, and is still riding at a very high level. All of these statements fit Bruce Goodin. In this article, you will get insights into his way to where he is now – and how he manages to stay there.  
“If our only joy came from winning, we would be miserable”
Showjumper Bruce Goodin:

Photo: Helen Cruden

Photo: Libby Law

If I wanted to be in top of the sport, I had to be where the top of the sport is.

Advice for equestrians, who dream of the Olympics 
Bruce’s greatest advice for riders, who wish to compete in the Olympics is; “Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most people are more than willing to help. So, just pick the brains of those who have already been there. And remember to keep trying to improve – there is always a lot that you can learn. When you start to think that you know it all, you will fall behind.”

The equestrian world in different countries 
Bruce has lived in many different countries over the years, and have experienced the equestrian world in all of these countries. This also means that he has seen the differences in the equestrian world, and he says; “There are quite some differences, and it all goes back to the history of the country – not only the horse history but also in general. And then it depends on the mentality – does the country have more of a farming or trading background?” He also explains that there is a difference in how people deal with the horses and where their focus is. Now he lives in Sweden, which he is very fond of; “I enjoy living in Sweden, and I think that it is a very horse friendly country in general.” He is also very impressed with the Swedish equestrians, who are doing really good in the sport. He explains them as; “Progressive - they do not get stuck in old ways. This is a part of the reason why the Swedes have such success in the sport. They are always trying to improve the sport, which it definitely has during the past 20 years.” Bruce has also lived in England, which he also seemed to enjoy – especially the lovely countryside. His own homeland, New Zealand, is according to him, also an amazing country to have horses in, as the horses can grow up outside – all year long, which results in some very healthy horses. But the problem, that Bruce faced, when he was still living in New Zealand, was that it was far away from all of the big competitions. This was the reason why he decided to move; “If I wanted to be in top of the sport, I had to be where the top of the sport was.” This is one of the things he loves about Europe – a lot of different people from many different countries participate in all of the big competitions. Bruce explains that this is part of lifting the national level; “It is easier to raise your own standards, when you are around the top – then you get to see the level that you want to rise to,” he concludes. 

Participating in the Olympics – 5 times 
Bruce is no stranger in the Olympics, in fact, he has participated in them no less than five times! When asked, what year he had the best experience, his answer was; “Probably in Sydney (2000). It was a great experience”. He highlighted the Olympics in Sydney both because it went really well for him, and because he felt very welcome there; “A lot of people from New Zealand came over, and Sydney is a great city. The people there were so welcoming and you could tell that they really wanted to have the Olympics there.” He also told a story of having breakfast at a café with a friend, and as he was about to pay, he was stopped as the people in the café wanted to pay for his breakfast. Bruce was reluctant and said no to the very kind offer, but they insisted and said that it would be their pleasure to pay for an Olympic participant’s breakfast. 

On the contrary to this lovely experience, Bruce also explains that in some cities, where the Olympics have been held, people haven’t been so happy about it. People know how much it costs and they are not really happy about hosting the competitions. But as Bruce has gone back to some of these places, he has rediscovered just how friendly the people have been. In general, it is quite important for Bruce to feel welcome in the countries he visits for competitions. It makes the entire experience better and makes him want to return again and again

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So, if our only joy came from winning, we would be miserable.

Best tip for jumping 
When asked for his best tip for  jumping, Bruce immediately answers by saying; “It is really important to have practiced good flatwork”, and elaborates by telling about a sentence, he has hold onto for many years; “It is not the jump, you’re trying to improve, it is the way you’re trying to get the horse to jump, you’re trying to improve”. In his words, it is all of the work in the background that ends up improving the actual jump, for instance a great canter. So, the flatwork is essential. He even points out some of the top riders in the discipline, and says that their level of flatwork is
really high. 

When asked about his personal favorite way of training, he is also quick to reply; “I like to do groundwork. Working with the horse and building the communication with it from the ground. That’s also what makes it easier for the horse to know what you mean, when you’re on top of them. It makes the job much easier.” He further explains, that doing the groundwork also gives you important insights into how the horses react, when you ask them for different things, and you therefore get to know them better. Besides this, Bruce also – obviously – loves jumping, and in the everyday training he enjoys smaller jumps where he focusses on getting the horse to relax. 

Staying in the game 
When asked the question “How have you stayed in the game for such a long time?” Bruce answers easily by saying “Well, I have a passion for it. And I still believe that I am, and still can improve. I’m looking for improving all the time. That makes the riding more and more enjoyable”. It is clear that it is the focus on improving both himself and his horses that keeps him engaged with the sport, and he always try to look for new things to do; “I find new ways of working with the horses and I find pleasure in seeing the horses improve. Like this weekend for example, I didn’t win any prices, but the horses did really well and I'm really happy with that. I got one tear, but I understood the reason behind it.”

He further goes on to take a look at the discipline in general and says; “When you look at the most successful riders, they don’t even win all the time – they win, but not all of the competitions that they participate in. This sport is very different from for instance running, where you expect Usain Bolt to win every time. That’s not the case with jumping. So, if our only joy came from winning, we would be miserable.” So, it is the passion for working with the horses that drives Bruce to do it every single day. 

Health 
Besides this, Bruce also takes his own health into consideration, and he practice both running and specific exercises to stay in good shape. “I’m not getting any younger, and I have to be in good shape to be competitive with the younger guys.” He is also very conscious of what he eats and drinks, and he explains that cutting out gluten in his diet really made a difference. He also stressed the fact, that this is not only on the regular days, but also the competition days – he focuses on eating stuff, that makes him feel the best. 

As for Bruce’s best advice for staying in the game for such a long time, he says; 

  • Staying healthy.
  • Enjoying the work with the horses and having the passion for it is the most important – that should be your drive to be in the sport. Of course, you also need a competitive side, but the passion is more essential.
  • Constantly look for new horses and keep up with improvements and changes.  

Photo: Helen Cruden

When you start to think that you know it all, you will fall behind.

We have had the pleasure of talking with Bruce, who had just returned from yet another competition, when we called him up. He was very happy about how the competition went – he didn’t win any of his classes, but said that his horses did really well, so he was very pleased. Now you have the chance to get to know him better and get insights into how he has stayed at such a high level for such a long period of time.   

Getting into the sport 
Bruce grew up on a dairy farm in New Zealand, and his father (David Goodin) was a rider. Therefore, Bruce was only a baby, when he first sat on a horse. Bruce says that he wasn’t really that into horse riding when he was younger, at least not until the age of 14-15. He says; “When I was around 15, something just clicked”. According to him, he didn’t love horse riding – probably because he wasn’t very good at it; “My friends were quite successful, but I wasn’t”. But since the age of 15, he got better and better and therefore also more successful. Besides this, Bruce always had a passion for animals, and he felt a very strong connection with the horses. But at that age, he also thought that it was a lot of work, since there was so much to do; “It was kind of a hassle, and there were a lot of chores”. But as he grew older, he started to appreciate these chores and actually enjoy all of the work. After he left high school, he started riding full time. 

Bruce started out with both jumping and eventing, as eventing is a very popular discipline in New Zealand. But when he was around 17-18, he decided to focus mainly on jumping, as he loved the fact that jumping is a bit more simple and not subjective – either you go fast or you don’t, and you either have a flawless round or you don’t. 

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