a grand day out

Al left this morning, but I did get to follow him all the way out to Cobbadah, which made me feel a bit less like crying. Mum and Jeremy and I were on our way to Upper Horton and the last day of the big New Year’s campdraft.

I had no idea what the rules are, but a really nice lady named Jen explained that each competitor cuts out a head of cattle from a herd of seven or eight in a small corral called the “camp.” Then they ask for the gate to be opened, and they race the cow (sorry, “beast”) out into the big arena, where they chase it around a figure eight and through a gate marked with road cones. (Not actually cones; it’s the tall cylindrical ones that Google says are called traffic delineators, but Sarah says if I use the word delineator in my blog it makes me a major wanker. Such are the perils of blogging at my sister’s house.)

Campdrafting? Is awesome. The horses are all compact little stock horses, with big butts but built uphill, light in front and high head carriage. When you see them working cows, you see why. They sink back onto their hocks and pirouette left, pirouette right. They keep the beast in that big high eye of theirs. Then when the gate opens, they take off like a rocket after the sprinting cow. The riders sit them like centaurs, riding in plain snaffles, and the horses pull up short when the rider so much as thinks about stopping.

Did I mention that this is awesome? It’s really, really cool to watch. You lean on the fence, while ten feet away the horses lock intensely onto the cows, and the cows spin and run. Mum and Jeremy enjoyed it, and I could have watched it for hours, except that I got hungry. We had sausage sandwiches and cups of tea. We’d watched this one epic run early on, a big guy on a lovely chestnut with a baldy face, and I was beyond thrilled when they packed up during lunch and presented awards, and my favourite chestnut walked away with the grand prize. Then we drove home the back way, which was SPECTACULARLY BEAUTIFUL, like a huge park; like you imagine the grounds of Pemberley.

There was a dead fox on the road which because I am my father’s daughter I felt obliged to move. (He frets when carrion birds are killed on the roadkill carcases they are eating.) Poor little fox; it was quite fresh. Not fresh enough, as we discovered when I got back in the rental car with a boot reeking of decomposing fox. I washed it with water from a bottle, and also stopped at the next river to wade around. These are my favourite Frye boots! I guess at least they’ve been blooded. I offered Mum the brush, but she politely declined.

Got back to Sarah’s to find that the children had had three bowls of Cocoa Bombs and were watching cartoons. It’s the best day ever.

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