Campdrafting is a unique and very popular Australian sport involving a horse and rider working cattle. The riding style is like that of Western riding and the event is somewhat related to the American events such as cutting, working cow horse, and team penning.

In the competition, a rider on horseback must "cut out" one beast from the mob of cattle in the yard or "camp" and block and turn that 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 under 40 seconds.

Up to a total of 100 points are scored by horse and rider: "Cut out" is worth a total of 26 points; horsework up to a further 70 points; and 4 points for the course. Most disqualifications (signalled by a crack of the judge's whip) 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. [ [ Campdraft Rules] ]

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 rider and horse 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 1885. [ Tenterfield & District, Tenterfield & District Visitors Assoc., n.d.] 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.

The Warwick Gold Cup is the premier event on Australia's campdraft calendar. Here around 1,800 camp drafters compete for prize money over about 6 days of competition. [] Walcha, New South Wales has held the National titles on several occasions as the district is one of the few towns able to supply the quantities of quality cattle needed for these big events.

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. [Northern Daily Leader, 24 May 2008]

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 $51,000 and averaged $10,456. [The Land Magazine, Rural Press, Richmond, NSW, 12 June 2008]

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 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. [ [ The Bulletin]

'Open campdrafting' is still practised on cattle properties when selected beasts are drafted from the mob instead of yard drafting. [cite book |last= Beattie |first= William A.|coauthors= |title= Beef Cattle Breeding & Management |publisher= Popular Books, Frenchs Forest |year= 1990 |month= |isbn= 0-7301-0040-5]

The horse

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.


ee also

* Australian Stock Horse

External links

* [ Australia Bushmen Campdraft and Rodeo Association]
* [ Australians' Campdraft Association Inc.]
* [ Southern Campdraft Association]
* [ Paradise Lagoons Campdraft]
* [ Dynamic duo of campdrafting]

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