U.S. Campdrafting: August 24

Campdraft participants add cattle to their newly acquired skills at a clinic in Kiowa, Colorado.

By Abigail Boatwright
The American Quarter Horse Journal
August 25, 2013

Campdraft participants add cattle to their newly acquired skills.

Campdraft participants add cattle to their newly acquired skills. (Abigail Boatwright photo)

Eager to get cracking, participants of the inaugural U.S. Campdraft Association Campdraft Clinic were in for a treat on August 24 in Kiowa, Colorado. Once they all ran through a dry campdraft run, Australian clinicians Pete Comiskey and Steve Hart unleashed the beasts – also known as cattle – into the yard.

Skills learned the previous day were put to the test as riders pitted their American Quarter Horses and Australian Stock Horses against the wily bovine. Each round began and ended with the judge cracking a bullwhip, of which no proper campdraft can go without. The rider chose and pushed a beast from the yard – smaller pen at one end of the arena – out into the larger arena for the draft portion of the pattern. Working in harmony, the horse and rider guided the cow around one peg in a left-hand turn, another peg in a right-hand turn and finally through two pegs at the far end in a left-hand turn.

After all riders had a chance to try their hands working cattle, Pete and Steve went over some tips to take charge in the draft. After lunch, the clinicians talked about feed, fitness, equine suitability, bits and spurs with the group. Later, the group went through dry runs with the clinicians posing as “rank” cattle imposters so they could tackle positioning the horses beside the cattle.

Each rider got one more full campdraft run with real cattle before Pete and Steve talked mob – or herd – management in the yard. All of the participants learned how to handle the usual five to seven cattle in the mob and how to pick a cow for the draft.

Some of the tips the clinicians shared include:

  • Your horse’s position stimulates the right response in the cow.
  • Leg your horse up for three to four weeks before attempting campdrafting.
  • Don’t train your horse on cattle while your horse is fresh – warm it up well.

This event came about when a group of local business people gathered to find ways to drive visitors to horse-loving Elbert County. The owner of two feed stores, Mary Harris began to brainstorm. Though she’d never seen a campdraft in person, she was intrigued by Australia’s fastest-growing horse event and thought it was the perfect activity to bring to her area. Her colleagues agreed, and the group got to work.

“I figured we could have the first campdraft in Colorado,” Mary said. “So I started googling campdrafting in the United States and nothing came up – there aren’t any campdrafts in Colorado or otherwise. So I contacted the Australian National Campdraft council and asked them what it would take to have the first-ever sanctioned campdraft in the U.S.”

With the blessing of the Australian National Campdraft Council, nine months later, the U. S. Campdraft Association was formed, and America’s first campdraft was born.

“I think campdrafting is really fun,” Mary said. “I think it’s really going to take off. We have plans for more events – some horsemen are already planning another campdraft competition and future clinics in Texas next year and more competitions here in Colorado. Everybody is really excited about this coming to the US.”

On Sunday, August 25, the actual campdraft begins. Check back soon for photos and coverage from this event.