U.S. Campdrafting: August 25

America’s first campdraft brought a taste of Australia to Colorado.

By Abigail Boatwright
The American Quarter Horse Journal
September 4, 2013

A newly trained campdrafter puts his skills to work.

A newly trained campdrafter puts his skills to work. (Abigail Boatwright photo)

The fastest-growing equine sport in Australia made its debut late last month in the United States at the U.S. National Campdraft Association campdraft event in Kiowa, Colorado. More than 200 entries from several states and Australia tried their luck at corralling beasts – also known as cattle – in the event that traces its roots to stockmen in rural Australia.

Beginning in the yard – a small pen connected to one end of an arena – competitors pull a cow out of a mob – herd – and work the cow back and forth in the smaller space. After about half a minute, the rider calls for the gate to be opened and then drives the beast into the larger arena, where he or she will guide the cow around five pegs in a cloverleaf pattern. The rider only has 40 seconds to complete the pattern, making this a fast-paced and exciting event. At the conclusion of the pattern, the judge cracks a bullwhip.

Riders can earn up to 100 points for their performance: 26 for the camp (the portion spent cutting the cow in the yard), 70 for horse work and four for completion of the course. Competitors can be disqualified for knocking down the first peg, losing control of the cow or riding the pattern incorrectly.

Classes include "maiden horse" and "encouragement rider" for horses or riders who have yet to win a campdraft; youth classes labeld as "junior," "juvenile" and "associate" rider; open horse; ladies open; and "old buffer" for riders over 50. There were many opportunities for competitors to get in the pen. The U.S. National Campdraft class schedule even included a sweepstakes at the end of the day.

Steven Hart and Pete Comiskey, two noted Australian campdrafters, donated their time to teach a judges’ clinic and two days of campdraft clinics. They also were the appointed judges for the competition. At the midday break, the clinicians spent time explaining campdrafting to the large crowd of curious audience members in the grandstand before the second half of competition resumed.

Steve said many of the competitors began their introduction to the sport through the clinics earlier in the weekend, and they were able to put their new skills to the test at the competition.

“We could see improvement in the riders from the first day we got here until now,” Steven said. “This has been a sensational success.”

Australians back home were extremely interested in the progress of the event, said Steven. From the moment they booked their flights, Steven and Pete were bombarded with enthusiastic campdrafters wanting to know all the details.

“Back home, there is total enthusiasm about bringing campdrafting to America,” Steven said. “My wife says photos from the event are all over Facebook in Australia and lots of people are talking about it. It’s been overwhelming.”

U.S. National Campdraft Association President Mary Harris said the board plans to continue with more campdraft events in the future. For more information about campdrafting in the United States, check out www.campdraft.us.