Where and when campdrafting started in Australia seems unclear. The more research I do the less clear it becomes.  It appears that the time was between 1880 and 1890.  One thing we know for sure is this great horse sport was made in Australia. Horses, drovers and stockmen played a huge part in the opening up of this young country and the inevitable competition over who had the best horse and who was the best rider would have been the reason for a more serious and formal contest to evolve.

The very basic idea of campdrafting is when one mounted rider moves into a small yard, called acamp, and selects one beast from a small mob of cattle. He or she then proceeds to move the beast towards the camp opening – which is blocked by either men on horses or two gates with men holding them shut. The mounted rider blocks and turns his beast several times across the face of the camp (the single beast tries his hardest to get past the rider and back into the mob). When the rider feels he has shown the Judge enough of his horse’s ability to hold the beast clear of the mob, he calls for the gates to be opened so he can take his beast out into a much larger area to complete a course. The course consists of two pegs (usually small trees) set apart, one on the left and one on the right, directly out from the front of the camp.

Some distance out from the two pegs are two more – but this time they are set much closer together and represent the gate.  The judge declares at the beginning of the contest if the course is left hand or right hand.  If a right hand course is set it means you must complete a circle around the peg on the right hand side first, changeover in the middle and complete a circle around the left peg, then drive the beast out behind the gate – and push it through the gap. This represents a full course.

In early times there were no yards and no pegs. As the sport evolved and more and more horsemen and women participated more rules were needed to clarify different situations.  Each competitor is allowed the same time in which to attempt to complete his/her run. The scoring is out of 100 points. The campsection carries a maximum of 26 points, the course, a maximum of 4 points and a further 70 points can be allocated for horsework. The competitor with the highest score wins the contest.

Rules: Competitors ride under National Campdraft Council of Australia Rules. Each Campdrafting Association has its own Rule Book which sets out the Rules and Regulations for its members and Judges.

Photo: Eric Young & Rivoli All Talk