Gunnedah is home to a hidden gem, a horse breeding farm which has excelled under the most diverse and challenging circumstances.

World recognition has been bestowed on the humble Willowcroft Stud, which has excelled in supporting the Australian market in ultimate show horses, while also exporting horses to the UK, Asia, and New Zealand. This stud breeding property is renowned in the industry for its point of difference, for being unique in its vision, quality, and ingenuity in producing the most beautiful show horses to meet the most discerning purchasers’ expectation.

Amanda Jefferys-Thomson and husband Warren Thomson are busy people, but both agree that the industry requires an abundance of passion and drive to succeed. Amanda balances work as a health professional with the demands of the Stud and agrees, at times, this is challenging!

“But I love my horses,” she says. “They anchor me in my work off the farm, they earth me and provide a respite and passion and meaning to life which is unexplainable. The horses also drive my quest to keep innovating in the horse industry and to set trends for the future of beautiful, safe, and sound mounts.”

Pursuing a passion

Amanada has been surrounded by horses since she was a small child. Throughout her life, she’s experienced many aspects of the industry and reveals the breeding side has always been her passion.

“I just love the thought processes behind the matching of exceptional stallions with the most beautiful performance mares to produce stunning Galloways and hacks for the show rings,” she says.

“The blessing of having worked thoroughbred breeding programs as a young person fuelled an interest in bloodlines, and confirmed my interest in seeking the most superb mounts for the future. Somehow, I have managed to integrate the horses with all other aspects of my life including family, health and lifestyle – they represent a core part of being.”

Amanda goes on to express how fortunate they are in their key performances across all the Royal, and Show Horse Council show scene – but her true love is watching horses they’ve bred competing with their owners.

“They’ve committed their personal time and spirit to foster their horses in being a competitive show horse. These wins and the constant feed through social media makes me smile, as I often watch the horse’s development through many life stages,” she says.

“I love how the industry teaches our young people to commit to a vision and purposeful goals, and that the wins worth having are hard earnt! What an incredible industry when we can foster such personal growth across all age ranges and have the enjoyment of a horse with true personality as we flourish.”

Fifth-generation farming

Anchored in the rich, alluvial plains between King Jack mountain and the stunning Breeza plains is a fifth-generation family farm, which Willowcroft calls home.

The rich basalt soils, with specified blends of selected horse pasture improved paddocks, sees the property boast natural growth of young horses that are supported to perform their best life as prestigious saddle horses.

“We just love how the horses are grown in open spaces, learning as they grow to make solid mounts with the natural bone growth to perform well in performance domains,” adds Amanda.

Willowcroft has enjoyed amazing successes, most recently at Sydney Royal 2021.

“This show was truly a family affair for 2021 where we showed our young stallion with my daughter Haley riding, Brady leading, and juggling granddaughter Willow. Our stallion took all in his stride and secured many Champions and accolades from our other competitors,” says Amanda.

“Sydney Royal is always a true test of our breeding, as judges demand more. You can often follow the judge's decision making and establish what they are valuing in a show horse. Recent trends towards a more diverse and truly safe mount are apparent in the industry as younger (and much older riders) want to enjoy the sport, perform well, and feel the joy of a horse with the temperament, confirmation, and personality to make for a great day!

Willowcroft will strive to meet the quest – we are so fortunate to have the choice of our three stallions, and of course what we consider to be the best performance broodmares in the country. Our mares are of exceptional quality and it’s certainly an exciting ride ahead – our future vision is bright.”

{words: Amanda Jefferysphotography: Marie Low}