Jack Brien-Rowlandson was most at home in the saddle of an Australian stock horse competing in camp drafting competitions.
But the lad who grew up on a property near Oberon swapped his saddle and horse for body armour and a rifle when he signed-on with the Army.
He finished at Scots School in November 2015 and joined up about a week later.
“There wasn’t much else I wanted to do,” he said.
“Some people said I couldn’t do it, so I went and did it.
“I like the lifestyle and the chance to serve my country.
“Not many people get to do it - it’s hard to get in and you have to keep fit all the time.”
Jack joined as an infantryman and was posted to Townsville, however he is currently deployed to Afghanistan as a Guardian Angel protecting Australians working with the Afghan National Army.
“It might be similar to a bodyguard to famous people, just at a higher threat-level,” he said.
“You can’t get complacent because things could change quickly; it’s the little things you have to watch out for.”
Before enlisting, Jack and his father competed in camp drafts most weekends in the central-west area around Oberon and Orange.
“I’ve always ridden since I was a kid,” he said.
“I used to go alright; I’d win a little bit.
“I was in the 13-17 age group before I joined the Army.
“I miss riding horses though, there’s the freedom of getting out there and doing what you want.
“You’ve trained the horse so all the work you put into it is pretty rewarding.”
Jack’s family run about 1500 sheep, along with cattle and horses, on their property and were a bit apprehensive about their son deploying.
“I think dad was more worried than mum to find out I was going overseas,” Jack said.
“They understand this is what I want to do.
“They’re happy and support me.”
Jack should have a chance to get back in the saddle again when he returns to Australia around March next year.
“As soon as I can get leave, I’ll be straight back home,” he said.
Jack is deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Australian Defence Force’s Operation Highroad.
Operation Highroad is the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to Afghanistan to support the NATO-led train, advise and assist mission called Resolute Support which has replaced the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission.
Around 270 ADF members from the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and Defence civilians are deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Highroad.