Australian Campdrafting has arrived in the United States

January 27, 2014

Learn about Australian Campdrafting, a sport representing the tradition of Australian horsemen, which has come to America!

by Mary Harris and Select Sire

America’s First Campdraft Clinic & Competition was held August 23-25, 2013, at the Elbert County Fairgrounds, Kiowa, Colorado. The US National Campdraft Association is excited and proud to announce the continuation of Australian Campdraft Competitions on U.S. soil! In fact, due to the success of the first clinic and competition in North America, more are being planned around the country!

Welcome to the smell of cattle and sweat of horse and human; the dust swirling from beneath the quick hooves; excitement; anticipation. This is Campdrafting, the unique Australian horse sport originating in the outback in the late 1800s as a competition where stockmen and ringers pitted their horses against one another as they worked side by side in stock camps developing the great country of Australia.

australian campdrafting colorado

Photo courtesy of US National Campdraft Association.

Campdrafting remains the sport representing the tradition of Australian horsemen. It tests the ability of the man to select and judge cattle and the ability of the horse to control that beast around a predetermined course. It has grown from an outback station entertainment activity to a highly successful national sport involving thousands of competitors, both professional and non-professional.

The pinnacle of the sport remains the Warwick Gold Cup, an event established in 1929. It attracts over 700 competitors annually from every state in Australia and is run over 3 rounds. The competition runs for a week during the last week in October. The winner’s trophy, a single Gold Cup, represents supremacy in this highly competitive industry.

Watch a video from the Warwick Gold Cup, the most prestigious campdrafting event in Australia.

Closely following is the newly established Paradise Lagoons Campdraft. Now in its 11th year, this week-long campdraft program is run at the purpose-built campdraft center on Graeme and Jenny Acton’s property, “Paradise Lagoons” in Rockhampton, Queensland. This venue is responsible for taking the sport to a new level, where competitors enjoy state of the art facilities attracting international respect and following.

Australian Campdrafting is pleased that two of its senior competitors and leading personalities have come to America to provide the instruction and advice for the first campdraft. They are excellent ambassadors for the sport and our time with them will be deeply rewarding. What Pete Comiskey and Steve Hart have achieved is admired by everyone in Australia and through their excellent school formats, they will be able to advance our understanding and enthusiasm for this great sport.

Australian Campdrafting

Photo by Lisa Goodwin.

The Pete Comiskey Story
Choose to be the best you can be.

As Australia’s premier Campdraft competitor, Pete Comiskey continues to reach new heights 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 Pete to develop his own profile and taken the profile of the sport to new levels. It is these changes that excite Pete Comiskey.

Pete Comiskey Australian campdrafting

Pete Comiskey.

Pete was born in Rockhampton and spent his childhood in the idyllic settings of the Comiskey family property “Lyra Park” in Capella. He was always a farm kid and his focus has always revolved around his family, his property, his horses and campdrafting. In his teens, he took several jobs in mustering and general station work, which were invaluable in expanding his knowledge base, but his love of campdrafting always brought him home and back to the circuit.

He has campdrafted consistently since the age of 8, where he had a first start win. He soon stepped up the competition level and won the A.C.A. Juvenile Title in 1985, ‘86 & ‘87. His first Open Rider Title came in 1991 and then in 1995 his extraordinary run of continual Open Rider Titles started. The only year missing is 2000, when he was out with a broken leg. This is an extraordinary record, as the Open Rider Title is an extremely coveted award. Every year, several aspiring contenders commence the year with the secret ambition to put everything into their year and hopefully take out the Open Rider Award, but every year Pete gets better and better, reaching new heights to maintain his unbeaten record.

Competition and good people drive Pete to continue in the sport of Campdrafting. He loves competing and never tires of the continual slog of the travel. Pete’s involvement in the sport has now become an industry. He has commitments with several businesses including Prydes and Ariat. He runs Campdraft schools on a regular basis; markets promotional videos and DVDs, as well as promoting horses and products for various people. His life is very busy and that’s the way he likes it. Pete derives a great deal of satisfaction from dealing with people and from helping people.

Career Highlights:
ACA Open Rider 18 Times

Winner of the following prestigious Australian events:
• Warwick Gold Cup,
• Paradise Lagoons – Acton Super Beef (Twice)
• Canning Downs
• Paradise Lagoons – Super Girl
• Frasers Livestock Transport Stallion Draft
• Paradise Lagoons – Mort & Co Open (Twice)
• Chinchilla Grandfather Clock
• Charters Towers Gold Cup
• Tamworth Super Series
• Inaugural National Campdraft Championship
• Clermont Gold Cup (Five Times)

For people new to the sport this list of achievements needs explaining:
The Warwick Gold Cup is the most prestigious campdrafting event in Australia. Entries usually exceed 700 horses, and it is the ultimate ambition of every competitor to win this event. It is run over 3 rounds during a week-long campdrafting program in the last week in October. The Paradise Lagoons campdrafting program is the largest on the Australian campdraft calendar. Once again, the Acton Super Beef Draft and the Mort & Co draft normally have over 700 entries each and for Pete to have accumulated four wins in these two events is way above the odds. In tennis terms, this record would be similar to having won Wimbledon, The US Open twice, the Australian Open twice, the French Open and most of the other majors on every surface in the sport. Pete’s results definitely make him the Pete Sampras of the campdrafting world.

The Steven Hart Story
“Why follow a path when you can blaze a trail.”

Steven 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. Steven is excited by this, and he intends to surround himself with those people who are leaders in their equine field. He recommends all competitors do the same.

steven hart australian campdrafting

Steven Hart. photo by Wildfillies.

Steven Hart has been riding horses for more than forty years. His childhood recreation turned into a passion for training horses after spending endless hours watching his father break-in horses on their cattle station in the Northern Territory. It was during this time Steven made a commitment to learn everything he could from the best equestrian men and women he could find. He has refined his training methodology and has continued to develop communication and education techniques that have provided him with results.

His holistic approach to developing the performance horse has seen Steven work closely with veterinarians, dieticians, equine soft tissue specialists and farriers to ensure his own horses, as well as his clients’ horses, are given every opportunity to succeed. Steven has implemented a system of training where he lays down a solid foundation on which he can then build. Getting that foundation nice and strong enables the horse to go on and accept discipline training for any horse sport the owner wishes. Steven’s system also develops a crucial link between rider and horse, one that ensures safety and understanding.

In between a hectic summer Campdrafting schedule where he campaigns his own horses and his clients’ horses, Steven operates a full time performance horse training and education center in Googong NSW, only 10 minutes from the outskirts of Canberra, the capital of Australia. During the off-season – the Australian winter – Steven can be found across the country sharing his knowledge and teaching others his style of horsemanship in two and three day clinics.

Career Highlights:
• Winner of over 200 Open Drafts
• Winner of the Southern Campdraft Association (SCA) Open Horse of the Year on Commando
(Steven’s gelding who is now retired, winner of 32 Open drafts).
• Finalist in the Open Rider of the Year SCA for the last three years.
• Finalist in the Warwick Gold Cup six years running, receiving third place twice.

 

How you can get involved: Test your horse’s athleticism and cow sense, and sign up for a good time while you’re at it, at the Colorado 2nd Annual campdraft clinic and competition August 6-10, 2014. Pete Comiskey and Steve Hart will be joining us again. Please like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CampdraftUS and watch our website for more campdraft clinic and competitions here in the US at campdraft.us. There will be two clinics and a competition in Texas in March and a clinic and competition in California in May. We have several groups working on other campdrafts around the country.

For more information, or to sponsor the event, email Mary Harris or (303) 621-5836; campdraft.us. For more information on Campdraft and our Clinicians please take a look at www.selectsires.com.au.
 

Topics: Australian Campdrafting, Campdrafting, Horse Sports, Pete Comiskey, Steven Hart, US National Campdraft Association