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He was the coach of the Canadian Eventing Team for the 2002 World Championships and for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Today he is active as a clinician, coach and author. Jim has maintained a lifelong involvement in the administration of eventing, both nationally and internationally. He has served as president of the AHSA (now U.S. Equestrian), first vice- president of the United States Equestrian Team and secretary of the USCTA (now USEA). He also served two terms as a member of the FEI Eventing Committee including two years as vice chairman.

JACK WAS SIMPLY THE BEST. That’s just all there is to it. I knew him from 1968 until this last year. We were rider

and coach, then later horse friends and even later shooting and fishing buddies. Most people in the twenty-first century don’t realize the impact he had on our sport. Not only his training and coaching, but also his organization. Thanks to Jack and his impeccable organization, we had good grooms and stable managers, along with efficient office staff. Suddenly travel arrangements and show entries were all done correctly and on time. You don’t notice these things unless they are done badly or not at all, but then you become very aware of them! He also had a huge impact on course design. From 1971

until 1984, each year Jack designed three courses used to select our team riders. The first was difficult and the second was more difficult. The last one was massive—but less technical than the other two. He felt the horses had earned a respite from the technical demands at that point. Jack was very intuitive and

sensitive towards both horses and riders. He did not have a mechanistic mind and he didn’t like to discuss riding theory. Since I think in theoretical terms and like to read a lot of riding theory, I soon found out that he was not interested in discussing something like General Decarpentry’s theory of collection. He simply wanted to get out into the arena to see each horse and rider combination and how they were working that day. He looked at each one and considered what they could do that day knowing that on another day, they might be working at a different level. He was very sensitive to the possibilities of each horse and rider. For a rider, if things were not going well it was a relief when he yelled for you to get off your horse so that he could ride. One of two things would happen next. If he was right in what he thought he saw, he would bring out what was needed in the horse and ride around you in circles,

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with the reins in one hand while he smoked a cigarette in the other, with the horse perfectly on the bit. But there were other times when he was not able to work his magic and he would realize that the horse was simply not capable of more. Then he would let off some pressure on that rider. Of course, he shared none of that with you as a rider.

You did what you were told and you didn’t ask questions. And you learned so very much.


“That night [with Jack] has stayed with me for the rest of my life.”

In 1996, David and his wife Karen became the first couple to compete on the same team and win a medal when they helped the U.S. team win the silver medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games. In 2000, David rode Custom Made to win the gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games and led the U.S. team to a bronze medal in Sydney riding Giltedge. David and Giltedge were also members of the U.S. team at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain helping the team to bring home the gold medal. Today he is the president of the United

States Equestrian Federation and is a member of the FEI Eventing Committee, as well as a course designer for venues across the country.

JACK WAS A MAJOR MENTOR in both my horse and personal life over these past 25 years. I have always thought of him as an intellectual giant, a legend in his own time and a true master of the horse. I remember an evening when I

had to sit in his office for two hours and listen to him vent about a horse he had ridden that afternoon. He started the conversation with the proverb “Let me sit on your horse

and I will tell you who you are.” He had ridden a horse that afternoon and he was very angry that the horse did not understand what it was supposed to be doing. The horse’s anxiety, in Jack’s opinion, came from the fact that it simply did not understand. He felt the rider was putting too much pressure on the horse and he was furious about it. That night has stayed with me for the rest of my life. In

my riding career I have always tried to remember that my horses have to ‘’get” what we are doing. He was truly a master of the horse. That is a label few

can earn but it is, without question, one he deserved.

Photo above: Jack Le Goff riding Torrance Watkin's Poltroon.

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