Windorah, which is situated in the heart of the Channel Country in Western Queensland, and is nestled amongst some of the largest cattle grazing enterprises in the country, tests the skills of local and visiting stockmen and women with their annual Stockman’s Challenge. This event is held each year in conjunction with the Gymkhana and Bronco Branding competitions during the last weekend of the Queensland June/July school holidays, when the small town comes alive with competitors and spectators all keen to be part of the action.
Riders must complete three phases of the challenge. These include, a led section, which is judged on the horses conformation, type and general suitability for the task. This is followed by a dry pattern. In the dry pattern horses and riders must complete a set course, similar to that which may be encountered in general stock work. Elements include working at all paces, walk, trot, canter and gallop, changing leads, performing haunch turns (or roll backs) which imitates the movement needed to “cut out” a beast or return the beast to the mob. Riders may also be required to back up, and crack a whip.
The final phase for the juniors, juveniles and beginners is an obstacle course. This course contains elements which may be encountered “out in the paddock”. The course consisted of crossing a bridge, backing through drums, jumping over a jump, walking over a tarp, carrying a bag from one place to the next, side passing over a rail, bending through some pegs, opening and closing a gate, all while trying to keep the movements fluent and calm. Each obstacle is marked out of ten.
For the Open competitors the final phase consists of a “wet pattern”. Here competitors get scored on their cut out, which is cutting a beast out in the yard. They then call for the gate and guide the beast around a course in the arena with their horse. Points are gained for horse work and the riders ability to complete the course around the pegs.
Horses and riders travel from all parts of western Queensland for the opportunity to compete in the challenge. One competitor travelled all the way from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales to compete. There is no age restriction for the challenge with competitors as young as six and seven years old competing in the junior challenge.
Skytrans are proud supporters of the Windorah Stockman’s Challenge and would like to extend a huge congratulations to all the 2012 winners!
Skytrans Open Challenge: Mr Craig Clifford riding Vegemite
Champion Contractors Beginner Challenge: Ms Clare McNeven riding Lethal Act
South West Ford/Prydes Feeds Juvenile Challenge: Mr Paxton Pulford riding Boree Torvill
Ergon Energy/Paulsen Bros Junior Challenge: Miss Olivia McCamley riding Warrenbri Bobby
Gidgee Smith Bags Best Presented Horse and Rider: Miss Courtney Scott riding Slims Buttons n Bows
Craig Clifford, with Judges Di Hayden & Narelle Toole
Jan Taylor follows her beast in the wet pattern
Nick Handley competing in the obstacle course phase
Junior winners Dusty Lasker (1st), Ty Lasker (2nd) & Maree Fields (3rd), with Judge Narelle Toole