Jeans, elaborate shiny belt buckles, spurs, colourful shirts and big hats was the dress of choice for most of the people who were in the little village of Upper Horton over the New Year break.
The community was inundated with horsemen and women wishing to compete in the Upper Horton Rodeo and National Championships Campdraft, which drew competitors from all over Australia. There were plenty of spectators too. Every available area was occupied by horses, trailers, trucks and caravans, buckets of water and bales of hay.
The Upper Horton Rodeo and Campdraft was “absolutely marvellous” according to Rodeo President, Stuart Steiger. Despite losing a few entries, due to the floods in Queensland and western NSW, the event was still “massive”, Mr Steiger said.
Nearly 3000 head of cattle were involved, all sourced locally. Sutcliffe Transport of Gunnedah, who have been major supporters of the New Year event for many years, again trucked all the cattle to and from Upper Horton. “There were three B doubles going for the whole four days,” Stuart said, “We’d be lost without them.” The Gill Brothers exclusively provided the bulls and horses for the rodeo. There were larger than usual entries in the bronc and bull rides and there were around 2000 campdraft runs.
Mr Steiger said that he was thrilled with the success of the rodeo and campdraft, commenting that the committee has been up-grading the facilities over the previous four years in preparation for the event. Mr Steiger was also full of praise for the helpers, saying “There is a really strong community behind this. We had some terrific quality stockmen assisting us.”
A “thank you” barbecue was held last Sunday night at the Upper Horton Sports Club to show the club’s appreciation to the nearly 100 volunteers who helped during the week over New Year. According to Club President, Baden McDouall, “we have never had a campdraft so big.”
From loading and unloading trucks of cattle and horses, to manning the bars, canteens and barbecues well into the small hours, the volunteers were there to see the job done. It really turned into a full week of work for the volunteers, starting with the early arrivals who began setting up three days before the first event, working every day until the final clean up.
The week was very profitable for the club, which relies on the success of the event for its operation for the rest of the year. Mr McDouall said there were nine trade exhibits and a number of sponsors who were also very pleased with the crowd, quite a few promising to return next year.
Upper Horton is the only campdraft in Australia that takes entries on the day, according to Mr Steiger. “We are confident to leave the entries open because we have the stock to cater for them. We have in excess of 4000 cattle up our sleeve if we need them,” he said.