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A Good Idea Made Better

Sometimes what seems like a good idea turns out to be something altogether different. In this case, a horse named Good Idea wasn’t so good at one thing but is pretty good at another. He was Good Idea when he had a stall in Vic Hanson’s barn at Canterbury Park, even though a wager on him was not. Four years later, he’s a horse of basically the same color but a different stripe. He’s competing as a jumper and doing just fine. “He’s a good jumper,” said trainer Heather Parish. “He’s a good student and a good learner.”

Good Idea, it appears, has the athletic gene going for him; he was simply being schooled in the wrong sport.

Can you imagine, for example, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., the best boxer alive, as a swimmer, or a point guard? Hardly. Or Adrian Peterson as a dancer. He’s a ballet artist at times on the artificial turf, but no one would consider matching him against Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Albert Einstein was a pretty darn good numbers guy. How do you think he might have done, say, as an opponent for Mayweather. Or Mayweather, for that matter, trying to explain E =MC2. The point is you got to be where you belong.

In the case of Good Idea, competing against jumpers apparently suits his abilities more than running against his own kind. “He could run,” said Hanson. “But then he’d stop.” He made five career starts and never hit the board.

Good Idea needed to be where he belonged. He was like a duck out of water on the backside at Canterbury Park, like a centerfielder on a football field, or a planetary scientist going one-on-one with Derrick Rose.

He needed a good home and a new occupation.

Lynn Hovda, the state veterinarian at Canterbury Park, was familiar with the horse and placed a call to Parish when it became apparent he needed a second career choice. “She knew him and thought he would be a good jumper. And he is,” Parish added.

Hovda has a familial connection to Parish. Her daughter, Tyne, who is following her mother’s path and studying veterinary medicine at Texas A&M, trains with Parish. “She also helps out with a lot of the vet stuff here,” added Parish.

“Here” is the Mary Jo Cody show farm in Hugo, where Parish has 18 horses in training, including five former racehorses and where Hovda keeps her horses, too. Cody shelled out $1,500 for Good Idea and then gave him to Parish.

Good Idea is a gentle sort, easy to be around, eager to please, although he does on occasion demonstrate an envious side.

“He gets terribly jealous if he sees me with another horse,” Parish said. “He’ll snarl at us.”

Parish exercises a great deal of patience with the new horses in her barn. “Good Idea is in competition but I haven’t showed him over real big jumps yet,” she said.”He got a first and a second at Mason City, Iowa (recently) but I’m taking it a lot slower with him, three feet jumps or so.”

Parish acquired Good Idea sight unseen, with only the slightest physical description of what she was getting. “He’s about 16.1 hands,” Parish said, “with a white blaze and white socks”

She has been around her game for quite some time. She won a gold medal in the Summer Olympic Festival individual show jumping in 1994. The medal, of course, is in safe hands. “It’s at my mother’s house,” said Parish. “I’m 38 but I’m still not allowed to have it.”

What Parish does have is plenty of business, enough to keep her going anywhere from six or eight to 16 hours some days. She is originally from Maplewood and graduated from Mounds Park Academy before graduating from Skidmore College in – ahem! – Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Any trips to the Mecca, Heather? “Oh, you bet I went.”

Parish then taught fourth grade for several years in California before returning home in the autumn of 2001. She has worked with Cody most of the time since returning to Minnesota and has been at the farm full time the last five years.

“I couldn’t ask for a better job,” she said.

Good Idea couldn’t ask for a better home. He caught his new owner’s attention immediately upon arriving at the Cody farm as a three-year-old. That was four summers ago.

“Lynn told us he had a lot of bling to him,” Parish said. “He does have all those white markings going for him.”

Good Idea picked up a nickname as a result. “We call him Elton,” Parish added.

After Elton John, of course.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.