As a jockey, Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Deputy Chief Steward of Thoroughbreds Geoff Goold rode racehorse Credit Only to his maiden victory at Eagle Farm in September 2013.
When they crossed the finish line together, Geoff had no idea that the bay gelding would become his lifelong companion.
Geoff met Johnny (Credit Only) in April 2013, when the Queensland trainers he was working for as an apprentice jockey, Shane and Adam Barling, purchased him from Victorian trainer Peter Moody.
The Barlings saw racing potential, but Geoff and his partner Emma Herriot felt he might also be suited to life as Emma’s dressage and show hacking partner.
“I rode Johnny the second day he turned up and he never put a foot wrong – he was always nice and quiet and didn’t play up,” Geoff said.
“I had a feeling we’d end up with him after he retired because my partner Emma came out and watched me ride him, and she always thought he’d make a lovely show hack.”
Johnny (Credit Only) started in 64 races, recorded three wins, and had numerous placings before retiring in 2016 with a minor injury.
Johnny was rehomed, but Geoff said two years later, a fortunate turn of events brought Johnny back into his life.
“Shane Barling was driving past Johnny’s place and spotted him, so he went and enquired about the horse and it turned out his owner was trying to rehome him,” he said.
Johnny came home with Geoff, who was recovering from a riding injury that had ended his career as a jockey at the time.
He said that Johnny’s presence was therapeutic during his 10-month road back to walking without mobility aids.
“When I picked him up to be our horse, I knew I wouldn’t be able to race ride again, so it was nice to have someone familiar who I spent a lot of time with when we were both racing,” he said.
“I could still enjoy the company of a racehorse, and it was a good time to have him while I was in recouperation after my career-ending injury.
“I was at a point when I was able to get around a bit more so having him gave me something to do while I was figuring out what I was going to do next.”
Now aged 13, Johnny has made the often difficult transition from racehorse to dressage and show hacking champion easily.
Thanks to Emma’s hard work and some lessons as part of the Queensland Off-The-Track Subsidised Lessons Program with approved QOTT Coach Ruth White, Johnny has gone from racer to prize-winning show horse.
In June, he won Champion Thoroughbred Class, Champion Thoroughbred Gelding and Supreme Champion at Caboolture Show, adding to a long list of dressage and show hacking titles.
Geoff said transitioning from racing to dressage is like asking Usain Bolt to go from being a sprinter to doing gymnastics.
“But he’s got a lovely temperament, so that’s a big help – he doesn’t worry about any of those show carnival rides that start up near him – he takes everything in his stride, which is pretty much what he’s done since he was a racehorse,” he said
“The Barlings have come out to watch him compete in a few shows, and they’re happy that he’s found a good home."
Geoff and his horse both have new careers now - Geoff as the QRIC Deputy Chief Thoroughbred Steward, and Johnny as a dressage horse.
“He’s been in my life for close to ten years and when we come to see him he’s always waiting for us – he’s a softie, really.”