The Inaugural Colt Starting Competition in Coonamble!

Host: Dr Jillian Kelly

All small communities wouldn’t run without volunteers on local event committees and I’m just so proud to be part of the Coonamble Challenge & Campdraft committee – an event that began in 2015 and has grown in size and reputation in just four short years.  Have a read of one of my previous Central Station blogs if you don’t know what a campdraft or challenge is… better yet mark your calendar for next year’s event and come along!

We are a very small committee of about a dozen people. We all get along really well and our committee meetings are more like dinner with your friends than an actual meeting!  This year we did exceptionally well to run a bigger program than usual – accepting almost 1000 campdraft runs, over 300 stockman’s challenge runs, hosted a judges clinic and…. drumroll…the inaugural Colt Starting Competition which was a big hit!

Colt starting began in the USA; this is where its name came from.  The aims of the competition is for top horse trainers to gentle, start and ride an unbroken horse in just a few short sessions in front of a crowd.  The horses we used weren’t colts, instead geldings, and they were donated by Terry and Christine Hall of Hall’s Stock Horses at Goondiwindi.  Anyone who knows horses knows that Terry and Christine are campdrafting royalty and that the horses they donated were guaranteed to be top quality.

They were actually all sired by their great stallion Hazlewood Conman, who is one of the most sought after stallions in the country, and they were all out of mares that were well bred and performed for them over the years.

We invited three top trainers to compete – Mat Broome, Leah Read and Ron Wall.  Each evening, we invited spectators to sit in front of the round yards and watch as these experts used different methods to tame and then ride these previously unbroken horses.  Each competitor wore a microphone and our expert commentator invited them to explain the different methods they were using.  The competition was expertly judged by Rob Leach and Mat Holz. Leah Read was crowned the eventual winner although the competition was very tight and the judges commented it was very hard to pick a winner.

Leah Read wasn’t the only winner from the competition – the three horses were auctioned off at the completion of the competition and three lucky purchasers got to take home a Conman gelding, started by some of the best horse trainers in the business.

The local competitors and community members who came to spectate were enthralled during the competition, having never seen anything like this unique event in our part of the world.  One thing is for certain – the Coonamble Challenge & Campdraft will be holding another Colt Starting Competition in 2019, and we are already dreaming up the best sires and competitors to be part of the action!

The Coonamble Challenge & Campdraft is held in March each year at the Coonamble Showground.  Follow our facebook and Instagram pages to keep up to date with all the action, including more on the Colt Starting as the event draws nearer.

Colt Starting competitors, donors and judges. Rust & Dust photography.

Colt Starting under lights. Rust & Dust Photography.

Mat Broome loads his horse after just two sessions. Rust & Dust Photography.

Time to get on the colts. Rust & Dust Photography.

Winner Leah Read works on her horse. Rust & Dust Photography.