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A junior cutting out on the "camp". Cutting out.JPG
A junior cutting out on the "camp".
Standard left hand campdrafting course, once the steer or heifer is cut out Campdrafting-diagram.png
Standard left hand campdrafting course, once the steer or heifer is cut out
This competitor has lost control of his beast. Biggenden-Campdraft.jpg
This competitor has lost control of his beast.

Campdrafting is a unique Australian sport involving a horse and rider working cattle. The riding style is Australian stock, somewhat akin to American Western riding and the event is similar to the American stock horse events such as cutting, working cow horse, team penning, and ranch sorting.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Horse Domesticated four-footed mammal from the equine family

The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. These feral populations are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior.

Equestrianism The use of horses for sport or work

Equestrianism, more often known as horse riding or horseback riding, refers to the skill and sport of riding, driving, steeplechasing or vaulting with horses. This broad description includes the use of horses for practical working purposes, transportation, recreational activities, artistic or cultural exercises, and competitive sport.


In a campdrafting competition, a rider on horseback must "cut out" one beast from the mob of cattle in the yard or the "camp" and block and turn the beast at least two or three times to prove to the judge that they have the beast under control; then take it out of the yard and through a course around pegs involving right and left hand turns in a figure eight, before guiding it through two pegs known as "the gate". The outside course must be completed in less than 40 seconds. Events for juniors 8 years and under 13 years have one sound beast in the camp or yard at all times. In other events it is recommended that there shall be a minimum of six head of sound stock in the camp at any time.

Up to a total of 100 points are scored by horse and rider: "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 (signalled 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. [1]


A stockwhip is a type of whip made of a long, tapered length of flexible, plaited leather with a stiff handle that is used when mustering cattle.

The sport requires consummate skill and horsemanship, and the skill in selecting a beast from the mob that will run well, but is not too fast for that particular horse. Great prestige is bestowed on the winning horse and rider of the competition.


It is thought the sport developed in outback Queensland among the stockmen and drovers in informal competitions to prove horse skills. The first formal campdrafting competition occurred in Tenterfield at the Tenterfield Show Society's 1885 show. [2] Competing at this event was Clarence Smith, a cattleman and horse breeder near Tenterfield, on the Northern Tablelands, New South Wales. He went on to create the rules and judging procedures that remain similar to the rules of today.

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).

Stockman (Australia) person who looks after the livestock on a large property in Australia

In Australia a stockman is a person who looks after the livestock on a large property known as a station, which is owned by a grazier or a grazing company. A stockman may also be employed at an abattoir, feedlot, on a livestock export ship, or with a stock and station agency.

Drover (Australian) Australian term for a person who moves livestock

A drover in Australia is a person, typically an experienced stockman, who moves livestock, usually sheep, cattle, and horses "on the hoof" over long distances. Reasons for droving may include: delivering animals to a new owner's property, taking animals to market, or moving animals during a drought in search of better feed and/or water or in search of a yard to work on the livestock. The drovers who covered very long distances to open up new country were known as "overlanders".

The Warwick Gold Cup is one of the premier events on Australia's campdraft calendar where around 1,800 camp drafters compete for prize money over about four days of competition. [3] Paradise Lagoons in Queensland is the venue of the richest campdraft in Australia with A$230,000 of prize money distributed over the four days of competition. The Acton Super Beef Open Campdraft has prize money of $80,000. This event, alone attracted 605 entries, which was conducted with two rounds and a final. [4] The Queensland Triple Crown of campdrafting consists of the Condamine Bell, Chinchilla Grandfather Clock and Warwick Gold Cup campdrafts. [5] Walcha, New South Wales has held the National titles on several occasions as the district is one of the few able to supply the quantities of quality cattle needed for these big events.

Warwick, Queensland Town in Queensland, Australia

Warwick is a town and locality in southeast Queensland, Australia, lying 130 kilometres (81 mi) south-west of Brisbane. It is the administrative centre of the Southern Downs Region local government area. The surrounding Darling Downs have fostered a strong agricultural industry for which Warwick, together with the larger city of Toowoomba, serve as convenient service centres. The town had an urban population of 15,130 as at the 2016 Census.

Condamine, Queensland Town in Queensland, Australia

Condamine is a town and a locality in the Western Downs Region, Queensland, Australia. At the 2016 census, Condamine had a population of 384.

Chinchilla, Queensland Town in Queensland, Australia

Chinchilla is a town and a locality in the Western Downs Region, Queensland, Australia. At the 2016 census, Chinchilla had a population of 6,612.

Most campdrafting days schedule an open, maiden, novice, ladies' and junior events. Larger competition days may also include a draft for stallions and even bareback riders. [6] Campdrafting has become a very popular family sport, with the husband, wife and a child sometimes competing on one horse in the ladies' campdraft, junior 'draft and then in another drafting event with the man up. There are 30,000 campdrafters (horses) currently (2008) registered and competing at various locations in Australia. [7]

The Equine influenza outbreak in Australia during 2007 and 2008 saw many horse events cancelled including campdrafting. During this time some shows ran small campdraft events using motorcycles instead of horses.

Equine influenza

Equine influenza is the disease caused by strains of influenza A that are enzootic in horse species. Equine influenza occurs globally, previously caused by two main strains of virus: equine-1 (H7N7) and equine-2 (H3N8). The OIE now considers H7N7 strains likely to be extinct since these strains have not been isolated for over 20 years. Predominant international circulating H3N8 strains are Florida sublineage of the American lineage; clade 1 predominates in the Americas and clade 2 in Europe.. The disease has a nearly 100% infection rate in an unvaccinated horse population with no prior exposure to the virus.

Motorcycle campdrafting, during the Equine Influenza outbreak Campdrafting.JPG
Motorcycle campdrafting, during the Equine Influenza outbreak

The Acton family has constructed a $3,000,000 purpose designed and constructed campdrafting complex situated on their property, Paradise Lagoons near Rockhampton, Queensland. In July 2008, $230,000 (A$) in prize money was available to successful competitors who competed here. During 2008, $500,000 was spent upgrading spectator facilities in preparation for the event. [8] The annual Paradise Lagoons campdrafting events now have three non-stop arenas that operate for four days for increased prizemoney. [9]

In February 2009 the richest campdraft, the $50,000 Landmark Classic Campdraft was held at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre, Tamworth. Following this a new Australian record was established for a non-Thoroughbred horse sale when the annual Landmark Classic Campdraft Horse Sale was held here. The 320 horses sold here for $2.9 million to a top of $46,000 and an average of $9,075. [10]

'Open campdrafting' is still practised on cattle properties when selected beasts are drafted from the mob while they are in their paddock, instead of droving the cattle for yard drafting. [11]

The National Campdraft Council of Australia was formed around 2000 and oversees the four campdrafting bodies which are the Australian Bushmen's Campdraft and Rodeo Association (based in Tamworth), the Australian Campdraft Association (in Queensland), the Southern Campdrafters Association and Gippsland Campdraft Association (GCA). Campdrafting is recognised by the Australian Institute of Sport as a national sport. [12]

The horse

The ideal horse for this work is considered to be about 15 hands and agile enough to take a beast from the camp without trouble. He then needs the speed to control the beast and the body weight to push a big bullock round by pressure on his shoulder, if needed. Beyond this, he has to be willing, and have the cattle sense necessary in this most exacting, and often dangerous trial of strength between man, horse, and beast. A bigger horse is typically not suited to the sharp turns in this sport. A polo or polocrosse horses' work requirements are somewhat similar.

A good campdrafting horse does not take his eye off the beast and the rider has to watch his own seat when the horse is propping and turning on the job. If the steer will not be readily persuaded into making any particular turn, he may then be "shouldered" into position by the horse pushing him in the right direction. [13]

The most popular breed of horse for campdrafting is the Australian Stock Horse. These horses developed from bloodlines of various breeds, some tracing back to stock that arrived with the earliest Australian colonists. Formal recognition of Australian Stock Horses as a distinct breed began in June 1971 when over one hundred campdrafters and horse breeders met to form the Australian Stock Horse Society.

The first sale of campdraft focused horses was held at the Landmark Classic Campdraft Sale, Tamworth on 24 May 2008. The 103 horses sold to (A$)$51,000 and averaged $10,456. [14]

See also

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  1. Campdraft Rules
  2. Tenterfield & District, Tenterfield & District Visitors Assoc., n.d.
  3. "The Melbourne Cup of campdrafting". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC Queensland Country Hour. 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  4. Australian Horseman magazine, July–August 2009, Paradise Lagoons, p.21-23, C&D Publishing, Goondiwindi
  5. Australian Stock Horse magazine, Jan/Feb 2010, Australian Stock Horse Society, Scone, NSW
  6. Australian Campdrafting Magazine, October–November 2008,"Halls Creek Campdraft" p. 20, Energi Print, NSW
  7. Northern Daily Leader, Landmark Classic Campdraft Sale, 24 May 2008
  8. "Reins readied at Paradise Lagoons". APN News & Media. The Morning Bulletin. 2008-07-18. Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-10-23.
  9. "Paradise in central Queensland". Australian Horseman. 12 (2): 91–100. September–October 2011.
  10. The Land, "Tamworth's $2.9m sale defies the odds", Amy Lawson, p.7, Rural Press, 19-2-2009
  11. Beattie, William A. (1990). Beef Cattle Breeding & Management. Popular Books, Frenchs Forest. ISBN   0-7301-0040-5.
  12. The Northern Daily Leader, 6 February 2010, A landmark for a growing sport, p. 38, Rural Press, Tamworth, NSW
  13. Martin, Desmond, Australia Astride, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1959
  14. The Land Magazine, Landmark Classic Campdraft Sale, Rural Press, Richmond, NSW, 12 June 2008