Jake Hunter has been in the saddle for as long as he can remember and, like most kids, he had big dreams to one day represent his country. Now he’s done that and the future looks very bright indeed.
Before Jake Hunter could walk he was on the back of a horse. Born into an equestrian family he learnt from a young age to trust his horse with his life.
At the age of 12, Jake competed in Colombia against some of the best international showjumpers under 17, which resulted in him being ranked number nine in the world.
The Singleton 19-year-old, who used to ride with the Hunter Valley Show Jumping Club in Maitland, is an inspiration to young showjumpers in the region – and a shining example of how hard work pays off.
“I have made a lot of sacrifices to get here and am willing to put in twice as much as I get back,” Jake said.
“I think this is important for anyone looking to be successful in whatever they do.”
Tiresome hard work, combined with the support of family and friends, led Jake to the Youth Olympics last year in Nanjing, China where he picked up a bronze medal for Australia in the individual showjumping.
But it was at those Olympics – at the ripe old age of 18 – that Jake had to make a life-changing decision.
The highly successful and well-known Duffy showjumping team based in Ireland, asked Jake to join them.
It was an offer he couldn’t resist.
He admits the international move was hard, but says the adjustment was made easier with the support and friendship of the Duffys.
“At the start it was very hard for me; I had my last school exam on Friday and the next Monday I was on a plane to Ireland,” Jake said.
“Leaving my life at home was always going to be difficult, but new things and experiences are always best.”
A year on and Jake is dedicating his life to his career. Most days start at 7.30am and finish at 6pm.
He trains by riding 10 to 15 horses a day, which helps to improve the performance of both Jake and the horses.
“I don’t have the normal life of a teenager; I don’t go out and have very little time for anything other than my job,” he said.
“Some people think it’s crazy, but I love it and wouldn’t change it.”
Competing against some of the best international riders, Jake came second in the Boomerang Grand Prix – a highly prestigious event for six to seven-year-old horses in Ireland.
“I take great pride in being a representative from Australia at international competitions,” he said.
Through all this Jake fondly remembers where it all began and says his biggest influence and supporters are his parents.
“My parents have been the biggest influence in my career, without them I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said.
“I will always remember the days when I was a kid in the paddock with mum trying her best to teach me to ride.”
Jake has become an internationally recognised equestrian, fulfilling a childhood dream, but he still has many goals to achieve.
“I have a dream and a vision to compete at another Olympic Games and world games with success and I will stop at nothing until I achieved this,” Jake said.