Ryuma, an Olympian equestrian athlete himself, bought the gelding in Sweden in 2011 after a recommendation from his business partner Bruce Goodin, the New Zealand Jumping athlete. Ryuma was looking for horses for his customers, but he was a little suspicious of Bruce’s confidence.
“He told me this coloured horse would be great for me,” Ryuma recalls. “But I didn’t trust him because he was jumping so low with such a small jump. But Bruce let me ride and build up to a big fence and he jumped great!
“I was not supposed to buy him, but I loved his colour and I thought if this coloured horse can jump big fences, it’s a lot of fun!
“So I bought him, but while he impressed me, nobody in Sweden thought he could be a World Cup horse.”
Ryuma recalls that Shino wasn’t thrilled that money had been spent on this rather ungainly looking horse “without a real plan”, but he was soon winning people over in Japan.
Within a year he had finished second in Japan’s 1.4m championship, and his incredible trajectory went into the stratosphere when he and Shino finished top of the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Japan League having won three legs and come second in the other two.
In an amazing coincidence, Life Is Beautiful had secured a place in the Final in the year it would be staged in Gothenburg, his place of birth.
“This Swedish harness horse had become the top showjumper in Japan!” reflects Shino. “We are very happy and looking forward to show how this Swedish coloured horse has grown in Japan.”
Perhaps it is working with people who truly understand him that has helped him turn into an unlikely World Cup standard horse.
“He is a very positive horse, who is also wise and very strong,” Ryuma says. “He loves freedom and playing around, and hates too much control.
“He likes a soft rider. If you ride too strong, he gets mad and so he is a good combination with my wife.”