By Jan Westmark
Jay Duke is such a busy man that he jokes he lives at the airport. In addition to working at five farms in Alberta, Canada, plus his family farm, Blarney Stone, Jay is a top show jumper and former Canadian Equestrian Team member, trainer, clinician, course designer, founder of the virtual lesson platform EquiVault and host of the “Jay Duke Show” on Horse Network on Monday evenings.
Jay believes in the importance of equestrian education and describes EquiVault as the ultimate library of training exercises. “There are so many aspects to training and the Vault covers all of them,” he said. “It’s also set up for all levels of horses and riders. I created it as a way of helping the show jumping industry through education, and thereby helping horses everywhere.”
Jay also appears in front of the camera on the “Jay Duke Show” and said the best part about the experience is showing the equestrian fans their heroes and idols in a personal and genuine format.
While he may be a man on the move, his favorite thing is spending time at the horse shows with his 17-year-old daughter Halle Duke — from morning feeding, training sessions, watching her compete to night checks, hand walks and every moment in between.
How did your horse career start?
I grew up in Edmonton on a farm. My mother, Cheryl Anderson, has coached multiple national team riders including Canadian Chef D’Equipe Mark Laskin. My father is in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, so I have always been around horses.
What were some of your favorite achievements in the show ring?
Winning the Canadian Junior Jumper Championship in 1987. Riding for Team Canada in Washington, New York and Toronto.
What do you like about teaching clinics?
I love seeing the progress in horses and riders at the clinics. Watching the confidence grow as the riders do things they didn’t know they were capable of is amazing.
What’s the best part about course designing?
Watching the horses progress through the week with their jumping form. A good designer always has the horses jump better as the week goes on through positive design. I also love being creative with the courses, introducing new and some old tests for the riders.
Have you had a funny horse moment that makes you laugh?
I laugh every day with the horses. Just last night one of the mares was loving the inside of her ears being scratched. What horse does that?
What’s your favorite thing about being part of the horse world?
The camaraderie of the top international riders. They’re very supportive and fun to work with.
If you weren’t involved with the horse world, what do you think you would have done?
I would be involved with sports in some fashion. I played almost every sport there is; I love competing, watching, everything to do with sports.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
I would go to the mountains. Water and mountains are my favorite places; the peace and happiness in those surroundings are incredible.
Who inspires you?
People who support others when they are down
What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?
I love comfy clothes and I love dressing up for a nice dinner. I guess clean clothes are my favorite!
What three items can usually be found in your refrigerator?
I love to cook so a variety of items is best. Hot sauce is always in my fridge and some form of sausage as well, usually multiple types.
What’s your favorite meal?
This is your hardest question! I’m a foodie, and will travel to places based on the cuisine. I truly love almost everything, except broccoli. I will go with top Japanese restaurants — seafood is great, and sashimi, when done well, is incredible.
What would be the best gift in the world?
People to not talk about politics on Facebook
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I’ll go with a tie between flying and being able to date Wonder Woman.
What’s something everyone should try at least once?
Swimming with dolphins and sea turtles!
How would you like people to remember you?
As someone who made the world better for people and animals
Jay with his daughter Halle Duke.
Photo courtesy of Jay Duke