THE WAY OF THE HORSE TRAINER
It’s fair to say Andrew Jamison was born with a love of horses entrenched in his bloodlines. He’s a third generation horseman – his father played polo and used horses on their Canterbury farm while his grandfather was a successful trainer of harness horses.
“There was no real time that horses weren’t around us,” says the Taupo-based TWOTH competitor. “They were always there. There are photos of us at three riding ponies or sitting on dad’s polo ponies.”
His first pony was Mockey. “She was a great wee pony and I have so many great memories with that wee grey.” From there he graduated onto other ponies including Beetle who won everything on the local circuit. His father Robin graciously stepped aside from his polo to truck Andrew and his brothers around to shows and jumping days with mum Philippa providing plenty of support too.
At 13 the trio started chasing more adrenalin-fuelled sports which proved a winner. Andrew won two New Zealand bull riding titles and then moved to team roping where he won two national heeling titles (2017 and 2019). He’s still doing team roping and last year their horse Junior was voted New Zealand Heel Horse of the year. “He is a real stand-out for his age,” says Andrew. His partner Stef (Gray) bought the six-year-old quarter horse just two years ago. “He could fit in anywhere he’s that good.”
Andrew has been training horses for 12-odd years. “This is just what I have done all my life,” he says. At 18 he headed to Canada where he rode for four years, consolidating the horsemanship talents he had honed as a child. “It really set me up to come home and establish my own business.”
He started out in Canterbury and word quickly spread. “People just started coming to me to start their horse or sort out problems . . . they’re really horse problems created by people. I really enjoy starting horses – that starting process when they are two-three years old sets them up for a happy, successful life. If you give them a good start, they can go off in any discipline and do well.”
The Journey to TWOTH
Andrew and his partner Stef Gray moved from Canterbury with five-year-old daughter Lily to their 10-acre block near Taupo just over a year ago. She’s busy with three hairdressing businesses but still finds time to compete at rodeos doing barrel racing and showjumping too. “We’ve got an arena here but we are already looking to upgrade things and get more land to cope with all these horses.” There may only be six of their own, but there are always plenty of ‘outsiders’ spending time there as Andrew works his magic for their owners.
Unsurprisingly, Lily is a little gun on her ponies and looks to have all the makings of a good barrel racer for the future.
Andrew draws inspiration from all sorts of people – those who ‘created’ natural horsemanship like Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, through to others. “They would have blown a lot of people’s minds with what they were doing back then. It just lifted horsemanship throughout the world and now lots of horsemen follow their legacy.”
Andrew is keen watcher and says he is inspired by anyone he sees doing great things with a horse. He’s happy to be involved with TWOTH and says while it would be nice to win, the end goal is all about the horse. “I want to set the horse up for the future. It should have a long bright career after that, so it all has got to be done right.” He’s looking forward to learning more himself too. “It is a great learning experience, a chance to watch some other professionals and to be around other great colt starters.”
It will be an unusual situation for him to be the one picking a horse to work with. “Usually it is clients just dropping a horse off to me. For this you need a horse who can handle the environment, one who soaks up the atmosphere and doesn’t seem too far out of its comfort zone. I will be wanting a bit of connection too – one who is willing, with a kind eye and forward moving.” He adores what he does. “To me it is very satisfying to take an unstarted horse through to a finished bridled horse you can do anything with. It gives me a lot of drive and is something I have huge passion for.”
Andrew’s top 5 training tips . . .
- Listen to the horse.
- Be as soft as you can with the horse but as firm as needed.
- What you need for one horse may be different to what you need for another – listen to the horse.
- Don’t be ruled by what others say – take their knowledge but listen to the horse.
- Always listen to the horse.