Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Campdrafting: Time to take stockCampdrafting: Time to take stock

After thoroughbred racing, campdrafting is Australia's second largest major horse sport. But while the boom that began in the early 1990s shows no signs of waning, campdrafting may be a victim of its own success. There is no single controlling body, no major sponsors, top riders compete against amateurs and issues such as insurance liability hang threateningly over breeders, competitors and organisers.

Story Heather Brown
Photos John Elliott, Andrew Rankin and Ainslie Nielsen

When large numbers of people, many in their late teens and twenties, left the bush in the last three decades of the 20 th Century, they took with them the numbers for cricket and football clubs, arts councils and race clubs. The means of a social life for those remaining often came down to a horse, a truck and a saddle. A handful of competitors made a campdraft, a barbeque and a laugh with a beer. And so, inevitably, campdrafting's star - that had been hovering just below the horizon for decades - finally dawned.

Campdrafting: Time to take stockCampdrafting's subsequent boom has brought pleasure - and competition - to thousands of Australians: young and middle-aged, men and women, the well-off and the battlers, all of whom share a love of horses and horsemanship. In many ways the integration of campdrafting into rural life has parallels with the coming-of-age of country music. As the population was forced off farms in America and Australia by depression, drought and poor commodity prices at various points in their respective histories, the more songs were written to celebrate a diminishing way of life. Campdrafting is a physical expression of the same phenomenon - a means to revive and highlight traditional skills and traditions; a way to take pride in what you do and who you are. Story end

Full story Issue 26 Dec 2002/Jan 2003

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