By Josephine Cozean Styron
“I’ve had never a horse before that makes the hair stand up when you ride him and makes cold chills go up your spine. He is a thrill to ride. The sweat is flying, his ears are flopping. Unless you’ve experienced a foxtrot like Traveler’s Jester can perform, you don’t know what a foxtrot is,” said Larry Robbins of Farmington, Arkansas, about his World Grand Champion stallion.
“Once you’ve felt what a good foxtrot is, nothing else satisfies.”
Robbins feels his horse’s greatest accomplishment is the winners he has put on the ground. Traveler’s Jester sired World Grand Champion Prince Jester and World Grand Champion Jester’s Charming Legend, as well as several World Champions. Although Robbins feels his stallion is a stronger producer of males, the stud has also sired some outstanding mares, such as World Champion Jester’s Charming Princess.
Traveler’s Jester did well in the ring himself. “At the 1990 Spring Show, my dad, Keith Robbins, was watching Traveler‘s Jester in the arena,” said Robbins. “Marshall Robberson owned him, and his son-in-law, Jim Hallum, was riding him. Every 30 feet Jester would squeal.” But, Keith Robbins was still impressed. “One of my dad’s greatest strengths is that he is a great evaluator of horses. He can tell how a colt will be when it’s only a few days old. He knew how a horse should be,” said Robbins.
Robbins then watched the four-year-old stallion. “ He caught your eye,” said Robbins. “We wanted to buy him, but Marshall wouldn’t even price him.” With the help of Jerry Middleton, the Robbins men bought Jester and turned him over to Brian Oglesby for about two months of training. “Brian got him over the squealing, with Jerry’s help,” said Robbins.
“When he came into the ring, Jester was ready to go,” said Robbins. “Jester had started to come out.” When Traveler’s Jester was announced the 4-Year-Old World Grand Champion, beating such horses as the Middletons’ Gold Strike, it gave Robbins a “tremendous feeling. He came out of nowhere to win it. Some people were a little surprised. But he had the breeding, and he had the ability to really turn it on and show.”
Red Ruby was the Reserve Champion. In 1991, the two would reverse places.
“Traveler’s Jester has that unique foxtrot that has what you’re looking for,” said Robbins. “The front, back, tail, shake, and the cockiness that says ‘Just look at me,’”
said Robbins. “The minute you look at him, you know he’s got it.”
Jester’s cockiness showed up in an unusual place in 1986. “When Jester was 10 years old, we were just beginning to ride Outlaw’s Patriot. One day Patriot got out and into Jester’s lot. When we got there, Jester was standing over Patriot, looking at me like ‘Look here at what I’ve done.’ He didn’t hurt Patriot, he just put him on the ground,” said Robbins.
Robbins appreciates Jester’s many other qualities, such as his intelligence and his kindness to people, especially children. “Another thing I love about him is that he has more heart than any horse I’ve had,” said Robbins. “ Lots of horses have ability, but they may quit or you may have to use spurs. Jester is not that way. Just set him where he is supposed to be; he won’t quit.”
These days the 24-year-old stallion is taking it easy. “He’s done his due. He doesn’t have to prove anything,” said Robbins.
But, Jester still has “the moves.” Last summer Robbins rotated Jester from pasture to pasture using a Polaris buggy to move him; the stallion literally stopped traffic. “He has a natural foxtrot that you didn‘t have to teach him,” said Robbins. “My wife says that Jester’s foxtrot could still win.”