U.S. Campdrafting coming to an arena near you

Jul 5, 2013

Campdrafting, an equine sport originating in Australia, adds a new dimension to the working cattle horse competition and is coming to an arena near you.

While somewhat related to cutting, team penning and ranch sorting, Campdrafting involves a mounted rider riding into a “camp” (corral or yard) which has six to eight head of cattle in it. The rider cuts out one steer or heifer from the cattle in the camp and brings that beast to the front of the camp and blocks and turns that beast at least two or three times to prove to the judge that they have the beast under control. The rider then calls for the gates to be opened. The cut out is worth a total of 26 points.

The rider then proceeds to draft (work) the beast around a figure-eight course in a larger arena.

Generally, the course is set to the left and once the beast has gone around the left peg, it must then be drafted around a peg on the right.

Once that is completed, the rider then guides the steer through the “gate,” which is two pegs placed apart. Once gated, the campdraft is complete and the rider can be awarded up to a total of 100 points. Points are awarded for horsemanship and control of the beast, within set time limits (usually 45-47 seconds): “Cut out” is worth a total of 26 points; horse work up to a further 70 points; and 4 points for the course.

Most disqualifications, signaled by a crack of the judge’s stockwhip, occur when a competitor loses his beast more than twice on the camp, losing control of the beast in the arena or running a beast onto the arena fence. A “tail turn” executed by a horse in the opposite direction of the beast’s line of travel also incurs disqualification at any stage of the draft.

The sport of Campdrafting in Australia was “born in the bush,” according to the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association (ABCRA).

The wild brumby and range stock proved to be an exhilarating test of man’s courage, tenacity and skill, according to ABCRA’s website. Travelling tent rodeos, called Skuthorpes, were a regular sight in the 1920s and 30s, and were often joined by a traveling carnival.

By 1954, an association was started, and in 1985 on July 17, the association became a company limited by guarantee, marking a radical change in its administration and a name change to the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association.

Even prior to the creation of ABCRA, cattlemen of the country pitted their riding skills and horseflesh against one another as entertainment in harsh conditions.

Stock “camped” for the night, were “drafted” to demonstrate who was the superior horseman and who had the best horses. The first formal Campdrafting competition occurred in Tenterfield at the Tenterfield Society’s 1885 show.

While the U.S. has been a bit slower to incorporate Campdraft events, there is a U.S. National Campdraft Association committee and they are busy preparing for the 1st Annual US National Campdraft Clinic and Competition to be held in Kiowa, CO, at the Elbert County Fairgrounds beginning Aug. 22 with a Judges Clinic, continuing Aug. 23-24 with a Competitors Clinic, and ending Aug. 25, 2013, with an Open Competition.

The Elbert County Fairgrounds include two outdoor arenas, both with PA systems, covered barns and horse stalls, a pavilion, covered grandstands and a campground with electricity access, shower and restroom facilities.

The entire weekend is open to participants and horses of all levels, and is open to spectators. Prizes will be awarded for all classes, including Grand Champion Buckles.

Steven Hart and Pete Comiskey, Australian Campdraft industry professionals, will be in Kiowa to lead the Judges Clinic, Competitors Clinic and judge the Open Competition.

Hart is a man with his eyes firmly on the future. In a world full of opportunities from ever-changing technology, he is adamant that to be at the top, every competitor needs to be up to date with the changes and how they can and will affect their performances. Hart is excited by this and he intends to surround himself with those people who are leaders in their equine field.

As Australia’s premier Campdraft competitor, Comiskey continues to reach new highs within his industry. Changes to technology, travel, prize money, and horses have seen the industry develop and expand.

With a large percentage of competitors being weekend participants and a further big percentage being full time professional horse trainers, the industry now envelops a totally diverse spectrum of people. These changes have enabled Comisky to develop his own profile and the profile of the sport to new levels. It is these changes that excite Comiskey.

For more information, visit http://campdraft.us or contact Mary Harris, President, USNCA 303/ 621-5836 — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor