Andrew Heffernan Talks About His Future Goals
One competitor who knows Somerford Park inside out is international eventer Andrew Heffernan who has been based at Somerford for 15 years.
Of Dutch nationality Andrew Heffernan was born in Hong Kong but has lived most of his life in Britain.
Showjumping was Andrew’s first choice and he competed through the levels to grade A, however a visit to Badminton in the late 80’s sparked an interest in Eventing and rest is history.
Andrew comes from a completely non equestrian background, ‘Mum sent us to the local riding school during the holidays, I enjoyed it and thats where it all started.’
His involvement with Somerford Park’s Horse Trials has grown significantly over the years assisting with course designing as well as helping on the organisation front, ‘The Horse Trials are run very professionally and they have a championship feel to them, attention to detail is paramount and no stone is left unturned.’
‘It’s great being based at Somerford Park, I’m sure the majority of riders would agree Somerford’s attention to detail and their continuous development and improvement across all their facilities is so impressive. They never get complacent and in comparison to most equestrian establishments that’s where they are head and shoulders above their competitors.’
Andrew’s daily routine starts at around 6am sorting through paperwork and arranging the list for the horses that need to be worked during the day and with 45 horses on the yard the list can take considerable time, ‘Every day is different at that’s why it makes it so interesting’, said Andrew.
‘Most people would agree that training an eventer is difficult with three phases there’s so much to fit in particularly with the higher level horses and the work load is relentless and varied. So finding the right horse is important.’
“A good temperament – a good brain – a good heart are essential qualities and are the key factors in all the horses that I choose to work with”
— Andrew Heffernan
‘It makes them trainable and these elements are more important to me than amazing movement or an enormous amount of talent.’
Unfortunately Andrew’s best horse is out of action at the moment so it looks likely that he will miss Rio; his main focus for this year is to concentrate on Burghley and looking ahead to next year he will be preparing for Badminton, and the Europeans.
‘I’m very fortunate at the moment I’ve got some exciting upcoming young horses plus a couple of Novice and Intermediate, with one heading to the Gatcombe Festival. However it would be fantastic if I could find some new owners who would be interested in joining my team’.
Reflecting on his two major talents currently in his stable, one is a mare Millthyme Corolla who is proving to be a real super star she has competed at several 4* events including Badminton on numerous occasions as well as two European Championships and an Olympic Games.
His other major prospect is Boleybawn Ace aka Harry who was part of the Bronze medal winning team at the World Championships in 2014, and Andrew is hoping he will continue to be a serious team contender over the next few years.
With a number of year’s of eventing under his belt Andrew is never complacent. He agrees that a lot can be learnt from watching other riders but as Andrew pointed out it can often be a case of learning what not to do!
‘I enjoy watching a lot of jumping and I think some of the top show jumpers are really worth watching and certainly dressage to a high level as well.’
‘Any sport that is done well and at a high level is worth watching, I’m definitely competitive – all top sports people have to be – but for me I don’t lose sight of what I’m aiming to achieve and that’s the best long term performance from my horse. Some people are more interested in getting a quick result I’m more interested in long term,’ said Andrew.
Andrew has achieved so much in his career to date but when quizzed his most memorable sporting achievement without a doubt is Holland winning it’s first bronze team medal in 2014 at the World Championships in France, ‘For me being to be part of the team was an incredible experience,’ Andrew said.
Andrew’s best piece of advice came early in his career from New Zealand international Andrew Nicholson – ‘you need to concentrate on riding as many novice and young horses as possible and not to run before you can walk’.
And Andrew’s advice to up and coming young riders? ‘Keep the job as a hobby! But if you work hard, stay true to yourself and the others around you then you can’t go far wrong.’
Best piece of tack or equipment? Waterford Wilkinson – ‘I use this a lot I like it because its versatile, you can use it as a loose ring snaffle or as a Wilkinson bit and I tend to find the horses are quite accepting of the mouthpiece. The one’s I use are quite heavy so the horses take contact, and I combine it with an elasticated martingale which gives a little more flexibility and the combination works very well for me.’
Join us at Somerford Park Horse Trials 19th – 21st August where you can watch Andrew in action a long with a host of eventing’s elite.