I needed an “event”! A backdrop - part-social, part-competitive - to put the characters in my latest story together.
- Something country
- something exciting
- something Australian.
Never heard of it?
Neither had I until I started doing this research. I’d been thinking a cross country race like the Mansfield Mountain Cup or a cattle muster on the Dargo High Plains. Instead I stumbled on campdrafting. It was perfect. The dust, the athletic riders, men and women and children, leggy horses, bays, greys and buckskins, the lowing of cattle in the yards.
The campdraft is a working horse event, a bit of cutting, a lot of skill and determination and courage!
You’ve got a well-trained horse, she’s keen, fit and responsive. You enter the “camp” where several cattle are milling. After running your eye over them, you make a decision. Choice is pivotal – you want a beast that is not too fast, not too slow and definitely not too ornery!
There’s no going back, no changing your mind now, so you focus. You and your horse cut him out from the mob. He doesn’t like it, he wants to go back to the others. But you and your horse work as a well-oiled team keep him near the camp gate - then you call for the gate to be opened.
He charges into the arena with you in hot pursuit. You turn him towards the first peg – left, left, left. And on to the second peg at a flat run to complete your figure eight. He doesn’t want to turn but your horse is holding her nerve, blocking his escape and putting her heart into pushing him to the right.
Your forty seconds of arena time are ticking away. Down the centre of the arena at a gallop and then a final turn and you’re through the “gate” before the whistle sounds.
A good run! The best!
Campdrafting is fast and gutsy! An event where you need to know your horse’s strengths and where a good understanding of bovine psychology is an advantage.
It's great to watch and I loved every minute of it! And while I’m working on this story I’ve got such a great excuse to go to more events! I can’t wait to dust off the akubra (hat), shake out the moleskins (trousers) and maybe dab some nugget on the ancient Blundstones (boots). And even more importantly, charge up the batteries for the camera! This is only a fraction our haul of photographs for the day!
Finding campdrafting was like finding an unexpected treasure! It's been here all the time and now I've discovered it. What unexpected treasures have you found by accident? Maybe when you’ve been looking for something else?