Friday, May 21, 2010

Campdraft 101

The next installment in our exploration of Country Life is a quick lesson on the uniquely Australian sport of Campdrafting. It begins in 'the camp', where our competitor (in this case, my baby) and his horse join a small mob of cattle and set about 'cutting one out' of the mob. (The Australian Campdrafting Association has some more detailed information on their website about the origins of campdrafting). In this photo, my youngest son is 'working the beast on the face of the camp', which means, he's holding that critter away from his mates behind them, and has probably just called for the gate to be opened so he can go out 'on course'...

Which looks a little like this (yes, it's a different day, and a different location, but totally the same otherwise!) When the competitor takes the beast out into the arena, their mission is to work that beast around a course, marked by pegs. The first two form a figure of eight pattern, and the final two, set close together, simulate a gate, which creates a clover leaf pattern - oh, and by the way, the team has between 45 and 60 seconds to complete this course!
In this shot, Pa - as is he is affectionately called by our son's girlfriends - is wheeling the beast around the first peg, and you can see the 'gate' pegs in the background. This is an action packed, adrenalin pumping ride, (at least it is for the wife and mother watching from the rail...sixty seconds is a long time not to breathe!) that beast has a mind of it's own, and could do anything! So, a large factor in determining success in this competition is the riders ability to 'read' the cattle and choose a good one. The boys were given some good advice from an old hand once..."A beast that will make you money in the sale yards will make you money in a campdraft"


There is a bit of waiting involved...our first born developed a theory about it all, I'm sure while waiting his turn on the camp rails...."Campdrafting is an art, not a science. It is full of variables and has no constants".

*The photos in todays post are courtesy of one of the beautiful young women who call my husband Pa. Thanks Leah!

4 comments:

Hannah said...

Tracey,

What a wonderful post--I've never heard about "campdrafting" and I feel like you've added greatly to my store of knowledge! I want to know what it's like when you're watching this great sport. Do you worry about your man and son out there? Or would you like to be out there, right along with them?

Tracey said...

Oh Hannah! Worry?!? That's an understatement! I have never been an adrenalin junkie. I love our horses, but have no need whatever to gallop flat out behind an unpredictable animal in front of a crowd of onlookers! My men, however, are classic type A personalities...which means my heart is weak and my hair is grey! It doesn't help that I have witnessed every one of them have what we collectively refer to as a 'crash', which have the potential to end very, very badly. Thankfully, my treasures have always walked (or at least limped) away. A crash involves the horse, the rider, and often the beast as well, landing on the ground in a tangled heap...nothing pretty about it.

All that said, I know plenty of women who swing a leg over a horse and show the blokes how it's done - and they show them well! (more type A personalities I guess!)

Lynn A. Fraley said...

Oh man, is that cool or what?! I would love to see this in person -- we have nothing in the States quite like this event. Campdrafting makes our reining and cutting events look quite tame. I can't wait to point some buddies over to your post for them to see this...

Tracey said...

Lynn - your enthusiasm is such a buzz! If you're ever down here, let me know, we'll work on including a campdraft in your itinerary! we have cutting competitions down here too...but, as you say, that doesn't have quite the same degree of drama!