McCOY TAKES VIEWERS ON AN ADVENTURE WITH EQUINE FUN OF CAMPDRAFTING
The first time Cord McCoy witnessed the Australian sport of campdrafting, it was while competing at a bull riding event “down under.”
His return to the equine sport came a little closer to home in Kiowa, Colo., home of the newly created United National Campdrafting Association. It’s there that McCoy takes a film crew and showcases this unique adventure for the Sept. 16 episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy,” which airs at 1 and 11 p.m. Eastern time Mondays on RFD-TV.
“Like anybody who grew up on a horse, I was excited to give it a try,” McCoy said. “The first time I got the phone call that campdrafting was coming to the United States, I knew right then I wanted to give it a whirl.”
He isn’t the only one. Mary Harris organized the U.S. campdrafting organization and established the clinic that took place at the Elbert County Fairgrounds near Kiowa.
“A group of us here in Elbert County formed a business round table with the idea to bring more business to Elbert County,” said Harris, president of the association. “The idea was to help the small communities get a little bit more business and grow a little bit more.”
Thus Destination Elbert County was born, with three members on the committee. Harris focused her attention on campdrafting, and it’s taken off. Earlier this year, she solicited the assistance of a couple Australians to help with the clinic, Pete Comiskey and Steven Hart. They conducted the clinic shown in the half-hour episode.
In the show, Hart explains how campdrafting got its start, based on the process of gathering a herd of cattle.
“It evolved into a competition,” he said. “They had the better camp horses, and they had a competition in the Outback, then it moved on to regular competitions in outlying districts, towns and cities to where it is formed now.
“With this campdrafting school, there’s people from all walks of life. The main reason, I believe, is they’ve got the opportunity to use their horse, whatever breed it is.”
Campdrafting is the fastest-growing equine sport in Australia, the experts said, and there’s a good reason. The first step is for a horseback competitor to utilize a smallish pen to cut a cow out of a herd, much like what is seen in the cutting horse industry. Once the cow is secured, then the rider must then maneuver the cow into the larger arena, where he/she uses horsemanship to direct the cow around a cloverleaf pattern.
The competition is based on points at various levels of the “run.”
“I campdraft break horses and campdraft competitions throughout Australia,” Hart said, noting he has competing in hundreds of performances over the last 11 years.
He also teaches clinics, much like the one in Colorado, which featured numerous students from all over the country converging on the community tucked between Denver and Colorado Springs with just a little sway to the east.
“The fact that people drove 1,500 miles to do this is phenomenal,” Harris said. “We’re going to have more campdrafting competitions next year. They’re already talking about it in Texas, and we’re working on a group, hopefully, in California, Nebraska and Montana.
“I think this sport is primed for moving ahead. People are excited. I think it’s going to go forward and be very successful.”
The reason, Hart said, is that it’s open to just about anyone who loves to work their horses.
“Anyone can come and have a go,” he said in a rich Australian dialect. “Like any sport, it’s really good if you can go and get some training.”
That’s just what McCoy experienced.
“Those guys really were great teachers,” he said. “It shows you anything from riding good to having a good horse to your working together. Just reading your cow and which one to get is one thing, then right after that, you’re putting some trust into that horse as a cutting horse to show that he has some cow.
“Once you feel like you’ve got the horse and the cow and that you’re all working together, that you’ve got a little bit of control, you call for the gate.”
That’s the signal to go from the pen to the arena and begin the craft of rounding the cloverleaf pattern – it would be akin to being a barrel racer, all while herding a cow in the process of rounding the pattern.
“That first 40 yards feels a little bit like being a jockey in a Quarter Horse race, and that first left turn comes fast,” McCoy said.
It was just another equine adventure for McCoy, who looks perfectly at home as a television host.