Thomas McDermott:
From Down Under
to Rising Star

11 October 2016

From a country town in outback Australia to making his mark on the equestrian world stage...

...Aussie Jumper Thomas McDermott tells Carly Dolan about life down under, winning the FEI’s Rising Star award, and his dreams of hitting the big time in the Jumping arena…


Hi Thomas!  You're still a young guy and have done remarkably well in the equestrian arena.  You must have started at an early age?    


I’ve been riding since the age of six. I remember riding around our farm on my first horse Flicker, who was 30 years old, (that’s very old for a horse!), bringing the cows in from the paddock.


So what riding styles have you tried since then, and what made you choose Jumping as a career?


Until the age of 12, I did a bit of everything, from Eventing, Dressage and pony club to Jumping. I had early success in the Jumping ring and never looked back!  Horses are a huge part of my family. My father rode at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and my mother rode and competed when she was younger. My sister rode as a junior and my parents have been there every step of the way in my career. It’s a real family-oriented hobby for us.



Describe the feeling you get when Jumping, especially during a competition.


I love the adrenaline rush when I’m in the ring, and the whole process of getting there.


If you were to explain the #TwoHearts connection between the rider and horse to someone who has never ridden before, how would you word it?


It’s great to have such a connection with an animal and the competitive element to it is so much fun. It’s a complete lifestyle and I couldn’t imagine not having horses in my life.  

Every horse has its own different personality, so it’s special to be able to bond with each of them. You can both have such huge trust in each other, which is a really amazing and humbling feeling.


You have acheived a lot, but do you have a stand-out memory or achievement?


Winning my first Junior Australian show-jumping title at the age of 12, and again, being the youngest rider to do so.  

My stand-out achievement is definitely winning my first World Cup at the age of 17 at Gawler in South Australia, and being the youngest in the world to do so. That is something I’ll never forget.

It’s a complete lifestyle and I couldn’t imagine not having horses in my life.

Take us through a typical day for you when you’re in full-on training mode.

I start the day at 6.30am and ride all day, training the horses for competitions and giving regular lessons to my students until the day is finished.


I know you’ve spent time in the equestrian scene in countries other than Australia, so how would you describe the horsey lifestyle down under to riders from other countries? What was it like growing up with horses in New South Wales?


In Australia, it’s a smaller community for the sport and it’s a lot more relaxed, but it does keep up with the times and the industry tries hard to keep their riders here. Going to shows growing up in New South Wales was great. I also worked closely with my father with his racing thoroughbreds, riding track work and helping at the races. I also helped break in the thoroughbreds with him, which was an incredible experience.



Yes, we can see that from the photo above!  So what are you currently working towards?


I’m working at the moment towards finding the right horse for the next World Equestrian Games in 2018, which I’m really looking forward to!

My biggest long-term goals are to be part of all major championships on the Australian team, and working on building a strong team of horses and people until I get there.


So, what was your reaction to winning an FEI Rising Star Award?


I couldn’t believe it at all when I first heard! I didn’t believe that a boy from Wagga, a small country town in rural Australia, could win such an amazing award. Some big names have won it before so I really feel very special and honoured.

“I didn’t believe that a boy from Wagga, a small country town in rural Australia, could win such an amazing award”

Do you have any other pets? 


I have two dogs – ‘Tess’, a mixed breed, and ‘Oscar’, a standard poodle. Both are super loyal. I also have a miniature pig named Daisy who thinks she’s one of the dogs!


What is your favourite activity outside of horses?


Hanging out with my horsey friends.


Not sure that counts, but ok...Favourite food?




Nice one.  Name something from your bucket list that you hope to cross off...


I hope to cross off going to the World Equestrian Games and the Olympics one day.


Describe your perfect day (this can, of course, involve horses, and I'm sure it will...) 


My perfect day would involve competing in the Olympics and winning a medal – that is my dream.


Great, thanks Thomas, and all the best for the future...


You can watch all the winners being announced at the FEI Awards Gala Ceremony presented by Longines in Tokyo, Japan  on 22 November 2016, by heading over to



Snapchat: tomothy_mcdermo


Text by Carly Dolan

Images from Julie Wilson & Social Media