Photo: Ken Anderson
Trent and Isle Drive - competing in the Open Limited Futurity final with a score of 217.
Lives? Young, NSW.
Occupation? Professional cutting horse trainer.
Family history with horses? My father, Ken Smith was a very well respected Standardbred trainer all his life.
What age did you start riding? I grew up around horses and have been riding as long as I can remember. I started out in showjumping as my older siblings were highly involved in the sport, but my underlying passion of working stock on horse back led me to a short stint in campdrafting and then I progressed to cutting.
How did you get into cutting? My parents and I purchased a 2yo cutting bred filly, Erin’s Jewel from the NCHA sale to draft and she showed a lot of potential, so I decided to train her for the Snafflebit Futurity in 2008. We made the finals and then I was hooked, I had only been cutting for 12 months. Up until then I was self taught, I would watch videos and other professional trainers. I knew I needed to go to the States for more experience.
You spent three years in the US pursuing a cutting career and came home with a World Title, tell us about this experience and how it shaped your career? During this time I was fortunate enough to partake in a lot of showing in which I was able to mould my training regime. I was also lucky enough at the commencement of my three years of showing to pick up a World Title in which I use to benefit my career as a trainer today. I believe that by having a lot of experience in showing from my time in the US, my career as a professional cutting trainer has benefited tremendously. I now feel very confident when working a young horse and knowing if the horse possesses the correct criteria of a show ready cutting horse. The aim is always to train a cutting horse that is completely cow smart.
You moved back to Australia and established yourself as a cutting trainer, how difficult was this initially? It was daunting, as the industry is much smaller in Australia and nobody really knew me here, so I just started breaking and training horses and went to shows and competed and the word soon spread.
What is the best part about a career with horses? I get to wake up every day and do what I love; riding horses and working cows, that’s my passion!
What does a typical day look like for you? In the summer time, it consists of an early start at 3am, aiming to have every horse on the property worked by 10am. We have about 25-30 horses in work. The futurity horses are worked first and then the show horses, followed by the 2 year olds. My wife Claudia and two staff members get the horses saddled and warmed up for me to school.
We have a 400 acre farm with 100 cattle, that are used for working, we also cut our own hay, and breed a handful of horses as well, so once the horses are worked, there is generally some farm work to do. I try to get back inside about 12pm until 3pm, (the hottest part of the day), before heading back out to feed horses.
How do you start the training of your two year olds? For the first six weeks of their training I work on the basics and setting up a strong foundation, by pressure and release. I work on getting their front end moving nice through their turns and they must be soft and supple with their nose and neck. I wouldn’t even think to put them on cows until I have sufficient control of this. I want to ensure that the first time on a cow is a confidence boosting experience.
What are some of the highlights of your riding career? A major highlight of my career is recently winning the Australian NCHA Futurity, the NCHA limited 1st 2nd and 3rd, followed by the NCHA Derby Champion and co-Reserve Champion all in the same week. Also winning the World Title has been up there as a highlight in my career.
Who has had the biggest influence on your riding career? In my earlier stages of riding, my father was a major influence on my riding career, through his endless support of my choices regarding horses and his knowledge of horses, which I respected greatly. He also taught me everything there was to know about handling horses and the way they move.
Favourite training exercise? My most effective training exercise would be the walking collected circles. This encourages suppleness and control of the horses body.
What makes a good cutting horse? The three main qualities I look for in a cutting horse are... Athleticism/movement; they are soft and fluent in the way they use their feet and have a natural feel in the way they move their body effectively. Cow awareness and integrity/willingness; during training the horses that stand out are the ones that consistently perform well and are always on the ball.
Do you have a preference for mares, geldings or stallions? A good horse is a good horse, but it’s important to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses:
Stallions need a good temperament, not too boisterous, but they must be able to keep their mind on the job. The good ones have more strength and more grit.
Geldings - Don’t have the strength and don’t take the training like a stallion.
Mares - I like them to have a bit of spunk, not too quiet. Tough mares have the grit they need to make good cutters.
What would your career choice be if you weren’t working with horses? My passion for being outdoors is the main reason I do what I do and I’m pretty sure that I would still choose a career that involves farming or some sort of rural occupation.
What is the first thing you have to pack to take away to a competition? My show chaps and hat as they are the uniform required for showing in a cutting show.
What do you like to do outside of horses? I don’t get much time away from horses as they require lots of training and maintenance which occupies most of my time, but I try to spend my spare days with my wife Claudia and our two children Lawson and Dakota.
What are your long term goals? I wish to continue to be competitive at a high standard and as I have already won the Futurity, I would now like to win $1 million dollars over my career as a trainer.
3 things we don’t know about Trent Smith?
1. I have a phobia of leeches
2. I was the Australasian mini trotting champion when I was a child
3. My favourite food is Sushi.
Sponsors? Aerofelt & Johnsons Feeds.
Photo: Ken Anderson
Trent and Metallic Bling - Champion in the Open Limited Futurity final with a score of 224.
Story from Horse Deals Magazine February 2017
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