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Listen to the latest episode of the Equestrian Hub Podcast

20 Questions with Cody Rawson-Harris

For more than thirty years, Cody has worked all over the world training animals and educating actors for films, television series and commercials. He also trains horses for every Olympic discipline, and for the racing industry.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I haven’t grown up yet. I spent my childhood in the New England ranges at a place called Nowendoc in between Gloucester and Walcha.

Q: Heath Harris, your movie horse trainer father, is well-known. Was your mother also involved in the business?

A: Yes, she was very heavily involved. She did films like the Silver Brumby and Snowy River: The McGregor Saga.

Q: What was your involvement with horses growing up?

A: I did Pony Club and worked for my parents. I think Mum used to send me to Pony Club so she could get some peace and quiet.

Q: Did you have any mentors outside your parents in the early days?

A: Ray Hunt was an inspiration, and Glen Randall from Randall Ranch who did films like The Black Stallion and Ben Hur.

Q: When did you start learning the finer points of training horses?

A: When I let go of the ego. I was always fairly handy and had a good feel, but letting go of the ego took my horse training to the next level.

Q: What do you find the hardest thing to train a horse to do?

A: On set there is a delivery date. That really looms over you on film productions. Keeping the horse in a relaxed frame of mind when shooting begins in two weeks puts a lot of pressure on the situation.

Image: On set in India.

Q: I’ve heard you were a stunt double for Orlando Bloom. Were you picked for your good looks or stunt riding abilities?

A: Of course for my good looks! We supplied the horses for Gregor Jordan’s Ned Kelly. I was galloping through the bush firing guns as Orlando’s character Joe.

Q: Any big names who were really good to work with?

A: Russell Crowe with The Silver Brumby and the True History of the Kelly Gang, Olivia Newton-John, Hugh Jackman, and Mackezie Foy was brilliant to work with.

Q: What are some of the movies and TV shows you’ve worked on?

A: Other than the ones I’ve mentioned, Black Beauty for Disney +, The Dressmaker, The Pacific, the Gallipoli miniseries, Racing Stripes, The Witcher and many, many more.

Cody and his unicorn shooting a TV commercial.

Q: Have you trained other animals besides horses?

A: I’ve trained water buffalo, parrots, dogs, monkeys, zebras, donkeys, mules, cats (they’re actually quite cool to train), sheep (which I found quite similar to training horses), kangaroos, and emus just to name a few. In my business you name it, we tame it!

Q: Have you worked at any particularly interesting locations?

A: All over South Africa, India, Hungary, Turkey, New Zealand. I’m blessed that I’ve been able to work in all these places.

Q: When you’re not riding, how do you relax?

A: Exploring, which is non-existent at the moment during COVID. Even going for a drive and finding a new restaurant is good fun.

Q: What do you look for in a potential liberty horse?

A: Willingness

Q: If you weren’t in the liberty/movie industry, what would you be doing?

A: I would be training and helping horses with ‘problems’.

Q: What’s the first thing you look to work on with a ‘problem’ horse?

A: Regardless of the ‘problem’ you need to start by getting their attention.

Q: Is there any particular issue you really enjoy fixing?

A: I enjoy seeing the process with a horse that’s fearful, or has had trouble with humans, and gaining their trust. There is satisfaction in the end. More recently, I’m enjoying helping racehorses with barrier issues.

Q: Are you afraid of anything?

A: Anything that is designed to eat you!

Q: What is something from your line of work that could benefit the everyday rider?

A: Pay attention to relaxation. Also, have a bit of grit.

Q: If you could have any horse past or present which one would it be?

A: A horse called Windy. She was an Andalusian and was taken before her time. She was the most amazing horse. Every horse I touch, Windy has taught me something that helps. She gave me so much.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: To keep training horses locally. When COVID settles down the international film industry will open up again. I’m also doing up my website crhlivestock.com which is for anyone interested in my film work, hosting a clinic, or booking lessons.