Campdraft season gets cracking

Liam Durkin

THE Sale leg of the Gippsland Campdrafting Association season had a healthy number of competitors test their riding and drafting skills across three days of competition.

Beginning last Friday, the Sale Polocrosse Club grounds in Fulham were packed with horse floats, as people came from across the state to compete.

Numbers were down this year because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, meaning riders who would usually make the journey from interstate were unable to.

However, the Sale event was the first campdrafting competition to go ahead for the 2020-21 season, so all involved were keen to strut their stuff.

COVID precautions were in place during the event, with entry and exit points in areas around the grandstand.

In quite a sight, hand sanitiser was even fixed to the outside of cattle yards.

Drafters competed in open, restricted open, women’s, maiden, maiden for maiden, two novice divisions, juvenile and junior grades.

Winners across the grades were Sue Svetlik (open), Russell Lawrence (restricted open), Vicki Hiscock (ladies), Russell Bradley (B novice), Peter Aposto (maiden), Corey Van Breugel (maiden for maiden), Nick Taylor (juvenile) and Tanya Reid (junior).

To the uninitiated, campdrafting may appear to be a casual novelty, but the temperament, composure and knowledge required to succeed in the sport means that the margin for error is miniscule.

The first challenge is for riders to use their best judgement in selecting a single beast from a mob of cattle and to then turn it a number of times to demonstrate to a judge that they have it under control.

Once the rider has a beast it has ‘cut’ from the mob, they will yell “gate please” to two people manning the entry to the course.

From there, the gates are swung open and there are three minds working at once – the rider, the horse and the beast, as the trio enter the course to complete left and right hand turns in a figure eight, before finally guiding the beast through another gate.

It is thought the sport had its origins in outback Queensland, where stockman would challenge each other for bragging rights to prove their horse riding skills.

The Gippsland Campdraft Association season will continue tomorrow in Trafalgar.