Jake Hunter, Australian show jumper, based in Ireland riding full time for Duffy Sport Horses.
Jake may be young, but he is mighty successful. Horses have always been a large part of Jake’s life and always will be. Jake started riding as early as he could remember and his thanks goes to his mother, Gail Hunter, who herself was a very successful rider, and still a great instructor.
Jake’s first pony, JP aka Jake’s Pony, was a grey 12.2hh pony that used to buck him off all the time.
“I used to feed him a carrot before I rode him, thinking he might not buck me off if I fed him.. It never worked”
Jake Hunter’s career at such a young age is full of so much adventure and success. In 2008, Jake qualified to represent Australia at the FEI Children’s World Championships in Colombia, when he was just 12 years of age. At this point, Jake knew he wanted to pursue show jumping as a career. In 2014, Jake was selected for the Youth Olympics in China, bringing home the goods for Australia.. A bronze medal!
At the Youth Olympics, Jake met the Duffy family and has since been based full time in Ireland riding for Duffy Sport Horses. Jake continues to ride successfully overseas with many wins and placings to his name.
Making the move overseas must have been a big decision, how did you come to this conclusion and are you glad you made it?
“It was a big move but I didn’t really think to much about it. The Duffy family offered me the chance to ride for them in 2014 in Nanjing. I didn’t hesitate at the opportunity and didn’t ask to many questions before I left. I finished school and got straight on a plane and haven’t looked back.”
The Youth Olympics, Nanjing, China.
The Youth Olympic Games are an elite sporting event for young people from all over the world. An event distinct from other youth sports events, as they also integrate a unique Culture and Education Programme (CEP), based around five main themes: Olympism, Social Responsibility, Skills Development, Expression and Well-being and Healthy Lifestyles.
Jake’s experience was quite special as he described it below.
“I was delighted to share it with a good friend in Chadd Donovan. I was overwhelmed with the shear magnitude of the event. The Chinese really put on a show and it’s something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Myself and my family had put a lot of time and work into qualifying for selection and is was a real sense of achievement when we made it. To come home with a medal was just the icing on the cake.”
As Pierre de Coubertin said ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.’
What inspires you to reach your goals?
“It has always been my character to push myself further and further. I’m not scared of not reaching my goals I’m only scared of not trying. ‘Truth be told it doesn’t matter if you make it the whole way up the ladder, all the matters is you’re living out your dreams.”
Show jumping has taken Jake all around the world, including, Colombia, Nanjing, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Austria, England and Ireland!
Jakes loves Australia and is very passionate about it, mentioning that if he ever had an opportunity with an owner or sponsor to have top horses at home to produce for an Olympic Games or World Games, he would have no hesitation returning to Australia.
Experience speaks for itself; advice for young riders
I set small realistic goals that are in reach. If you set one small goal everyday to reach they’re just stepping stones in the right direction. Just as simple as doing something better then I did yesterday.
Keeping riding fit?
I ride a lot of horses. So that keeps me physically fit. I have to keep my muscles flexible as they get tight with the amount I ride. I have a good physio and see them regularly.
Pathways for young show jumpers wishing to follow your footsteps?
Be patient and work harder then anybody else. It’s not all as glamorous as it sounds. There are by far more bad days then good and you have to be prepared to face anything that comes at you head on with a smile on your face.
Pre competition routine to prepare yourself mentally? How do you go about handling the pressures of competing at such a high level and riding for owners?
This is a very good question. Earlier on in my career I really use to struggle with the mental side of competition. It was something I really had to address. I read the book ‘Power of Now’ and it really helped me. I learnt to live in the moment when I am riding a horse and to not think about anything other then what is happening under me at the exact moment. Which i think is very important. A lot of people can get caught up worrying about yesterday or the last time you jumped or what the other competitor did or what they will do or what someone will think. All that matters is yourself, and you doing the best job you can. Once you understand that anything is possible.
I am lucky to have very good relationships with all of my owners and we have great trust in each other and that makes things a lot easier for us all.
A moto to live by….
“If you do something you love, you’ll never have to ‘work’ a day in your life”
Jake would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has helped me get where he is today. “It’s so important to have good people around you and I’m very fortunate to have some amazing people surrounding and supporting me. My Family at home the Duffy’s in Ireland and everyone else that has played a part in my career. Owners sponsors and supporters. I could never be here without these people. And I am looking forward to the future and what it holds.”
Any one wishing to contact Jake, please contact him via Facebook @ Jake Hunter.