Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interview with Andy Hillstrand of The Time Bandit (Deadliest Catch)

In honor of tonight's season premiere of Deadliest Catch, I'm reposting the interview I did while I worked at WagNBrag.com with Andy Hillstrand, co-captain of the Time Bandit:

WagNBrag.com Celebrity Q&A - Andy Hillstrand of Deadliest Catch

I imagine that our household is not unique when it comes to our choices in what to watch on TV. My wife and I seldom agree, which means most of the time we’re watching what she wants. There is one big exception to this rule, Tuesday nights at 9pm our television is always tuned to the Discovery Channel as we are completely hooked on the show Deadliest Catch.

Watching these brave men take their lives into their hands on a moment by moment basis in one of the few true reality shows on TV makes for the type of drama only real life can create. So imagine our surprise when we discovered that just a few miles outside of Evansville Indiana one of our favorite captains on the show not only lived, but owns the Hobby Horse Acres ranch.

Andy Hillstrand, co-captain of the F/V Time Bandit, was gracious enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions for WagNBrag.com. Hillstrand explains what it's like to go from pulling up king crabs in the Bering Sea to training a horse in the Heartland of America.

WNB: It’s quite a transition from a commercial fisherman to a horse trainer, who introduced you to horses and what is the appeal?

Andy: My wife bought two horses one year when I was out fishing. From there on it was just the pure raw power and gentleness of them that hooked me. Like the ocean, they can be calm one minute and explosive the next which is a fun challenge.

WNB: Your family moved from Alaska to Indiana about 5 years ago, how did the animals react to such a drastic change in climate?

Andy: Like me, they have learned to acclimate, but I’m sure they would love to be by the ocean to smell the salt air again.

WNB: Tell me about the horses you have now.

Andy: I have two dark brown foundation quarter horses, Rio and Midnight, and one quarter horse appaloosa, Snowflake. One yearling paint filly, Buckshot, and a miniature horse, Morning Star. The foundation quarter horses are five and nine years old. Rio is my favorite and he can be seen on my website. Snowflake and Morning Star are on the website too. We board an assortment of other horses too.

WNB: What about riding centers you?

Andy: It is very basic, but not simple. I have to ride the horse without getting in the way of his natural movement which takes all my emotional and mental concentration as well as my physical balance and fitness. The horse provides an instant source of feedback if I am out of balance physically, emotionally or mentally and he lets me know right away; that keeps me very centered.

WNB: What is Natural Horsemanship?

Andy: Natural Horsemanship is the training of horses and humans using communication, understanding, and psychology rather than fear or intimidation or mechanical means.

WNB: Can you apply the same principles to training and interacting with other animals such as dogs and cats?

Andy: You can apply the same principles, but dogs and cats are predators and horses are prey animals. Dogs and Cats operate off praise, reward, and recognition while horses respond to safety, comfort, and play.

WNB: How long have you been training others in Natural Horsemanship?

Andy: Only about three years on a professional level. I’ve been teaching my wife and daughter and friends for about nine years.

WNB: Is Hobby Horse Acres a family affair?

Andy: Yes the ranch is a family affair; my wife and I. Our daughters are grown and on their own.

WNB: What services do you offer at Hobby Horse Acres?

Andy: We board horses, teach riding lessons, train horses, have day camps, host birthday parties and events.

WNB: Describe a typical (if there is such a thing) day at Hobby Horse Acres.

Andy: Wake up at 6:30 AM, making coffee, letting Cali & Bait out (the dogs), checking my emails, making sure the stable hands and instructors are doing their jobs cleaning stalls and getting prepared for day camp or lessons. Until recently I was the one cleaning the stalls and giving the lessons, but now we have employees to do that so I can work on promoting Time Bandit Productions and all that entails.

WNB: What does the rest of your extended family think about the ranch?

Andy: They love it except my brother Johnathan thinks I am crazy because Superman was killed while horseback riding.

WNB: Where did your affinity for animals develop?

Andy: As a young boy growing up around animals, both wild and tame, it has always been in my blood.

WNB: Do you consider your horses as pets? Do you have any other pets?

Andy: More like friends and partners. I have two dogs and two cats.

WNB: What do the animals in your life do for you?

Andy: They teach me to live in the moment and not to take anything for granted, to have fun, live life, love and shut up and fish!

WNB: What other animals have you cared for in your life?

Andy: Baby bunnies, cats, dogs, birds, pet rodents, pet reptiles; the whole gamete of pets my children had during their childhood. Even had pet squirrels! Saved a baby bunny rabbit off the side of the road and hand fed it until I handed him off to a rabbit rescuer.

WNB: If you had to pick between pulling full pots of crabs or riding off into the sunset, which would it be?

Andy: Who said I can’t have both? Pulling pots is like riding off into the sunset.

WNB: What’s the best way to contact you about lessons or boarding?

Andy: Go to www.hobbyhorseacres.net and click on the email us link

For more information about Andy and his brother Johnathan and their lifelong ambition to catch every crab on the bottom of the Bering Sea, check out their autobiography Time Bandit: Two Brothers, the Bering Sea, and One of the World's Deadliest Jobs or visit their fishing website http://www.timebandit.tv. Also don’t miss Deadliest Catch, Tuesdays at 9pm on the Discovery Channel.