Name: Jake Hunter
From: Singleton, Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Lives: Knockmore, County Mayo, Ireland
Occupation: Rider at Duffy Sporthorses
- What Age did you start riding? I started riding as early as I can remember. I’d say I sat on a horse for the first time when I was a baby.
- Who Introduced you to riding? My mother Gail Hunter, who was a great rider herself and is still a great instructor.
- What motivated you to base overseas?I wanted to broaden my horizons and take advantage of more opportunities. The amount of great horses I’ve gotten to ride since I left has made the move completely worth it.
- Tell us about your first horse. I had a pony named JP, which stood for Jake’s Pony. He was a grey 12.2 pony, and he used to buck me off almost every day! I have no idea why but I really loved him. I used to feed him a carrot before I rode, thinking he might not buck me off if I fed him. It never worked!
- How many horses do you currently have in work? We have 55 stables here at Duffy Sporthorses, and all of the animals are in work between two or three riders. There are about 20 horses that are in serious competition, and others are up and comers.
- Which horse is your current star? I’m fortunate to have lots of great horses at the moment, so this is a hard question to answer. Currently I have a seven year old Quasimodo mare called Elise. She was second in the U25 Grand Prix at the Owners Young Rider International show, and jumped a lot of great rounds in October in France.
- Do you have any future stars? I have a few. There is a great Boris VD Heffinck gelding called Imanthos (or as he’s known at home Windy Sue) and he is a great talent. He’s a scopey careful jumper. There’s also a lovely six year old Quaprice x Grand Venur mare Aimoise Valiere that I hope to qualify for Dublin next year. Of course we cannot forget my own horse Val De Weiser, a five year old stallion that I think has the talent for the top sport.
- What was your biggest competitive achievement? I try not to focus on individual achievements and instead try to be m best every day, but certainly the proudest moment was the Individual Bronze Medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2014.
- Who was the biggest influence to your riding? My mum Gail Hunter. She taught me to ride, and brought me to every show I attended. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her, and I still call her for help with my current horses.
- What do you look for in horse? The most important part of a horse is a good attitude: they have to be willing to improve.
- Which piece of gear can’t you leave home without? A snaffle bit. I try to keep it simple, and most of my horses compete in that bit.
- How do you prepare mentally for a big competition? I’m fortunate enough to be naturally laid back, and the homework for a big competition starts months before it. During the season at any given time I’d like to think our program has the horses ready to go.
- How do you prepare your horse for a big class? Each of my horses is different-some like to start in a smaller class, some in a bigger one. I like to know each horse well enough to know just what they need to be ready. For myself I check all my gear, walk the track with Vinnie Duffy and Jean Gill, and make a plan with my groom.
- Describe what is important for your warm up? Keeping it simple, and making the horse confident. I really believe training time is at home, and the warm up ring is only for warming up the horse’s body.
- What do you focus on when walking the course? The main thing I focus on is making a good plan to suit my horse and my goal for that class.
- What are your short and long term goals? In the short term I want to keep improving, in the long term I want to represent Australia in International competition. Of course every rider’s dream is to compete at the Olympic Games.
- Who is your Australian based role model? My mother, she has so much knowledge of our sport.
- Other role models? I look up to lots of riders, for many reasons—but no one in particular because I believe everyone is an individual and brings something good to the table.
- Which is your favourite horse of all time? My old horse Imperial Express, he was incredibly fun and taught me a lot. I owe a lot to that horse for where I am today.
- Tell us a few things we don’t know about you? I now speak with half an Irish accent, which I am not proud of!
- What would your advice be to any Australian rider who wants to ride overseas? Base yourself with someone you can trust who is committed to making you better. It’s hard work, not always glamourous and it’s very important to be with the right people. Also it’s really cold so bring a jacket!
- Who are your sponsors? Tuff Rock Australia, Oakwood Cleaning Products, Brighton Saddlery and Pryde’s Easy Feeds. I’d like to thank them and Duffy Sporthorses for their continued support.