After competing in an ranch sorting events for less than 12 months, Brian Moore and his son Zac both won titles at the ABCRA (Australian Bushmen's Campdraft and Rodeo Association) finals in Tamworth at the end of January.
Prior to the finals in Tamworth the Moore family had been travelling to the Hunter Valley to compete in ranch sorting. Brian's daughter 12-year-old daughter, Keeley won the overall Junior Rider of the year in the Hunter Valley competition, while 10-year-old son, Zac finished in fifth place for the year in the Junior Rider section.
"When they went to Tamworth Keeley had no luck and Zac actually won the event at the Junior event at National Finals," Brian, president of the Manning Junior Rodeo Association said.
"We've never been to the National Finals before and it was very good. Zac was super excited because usually his sister has been winning everything, so to beat her ups the sibling rivalry!"
Adult events are handicapped, and as Keeley turns 13 this month, she can no longer ride in the Juniors and will ride in handicap classes.
At Nationals, Brian qualified for both the eight handicap and All Grades. He took out the eight handicap title with his partner for the eight, Stephanie Woolridge from Tamworth.
"It was really good. We got a trophy rug, a brand new leather bridle and of course some prize money," Brian said.
Zac also won the same prizes for his Junior Rider win.
What is ranch sorting?
Ranch sorting is held in a smaller area than campdrafting. Two circles of 60 foot diameter are joined by a gate in the middle.
There are 11 head of cattle and 10 of those cattle are numbered from zero to nine. Two riders act as a team and start in the gateway.
"When the first rider crosses the line of the gate the judge will tell you your first number, for instance six. Then you have to get six, seven, eight, nine, zero all in order, then one, two, three, four, five," Brian explained.
Brian and his family started doing ranch sorting as an alternative to campdrafting, because most of the campdrafts were called off due to drought and lack of availability of cattle.
"I saw this event advertised in the Hunter Valley and I thought, why don't we go and do that, we're still feeding the horses and they're doing nothing. So we went to give it a go and the kids love it. They actually prefer it to campdrafting," Brian said.
"What I mainly use it for is for the children to get more confidence. But it's also very good because there is less pressure in that sport than in campdrafting, so it's really good for training and starting a young horse. It's a win/win for us whichever way you look at it."
Brian has had mixed reactions from others in the campdrafting world as, he says, some campdrafters tend to 'turn up their nose' at ranch sorting. But some have seen the benefits to the Moore family.
"Other competitors that have children that campdraft against our children have said to me 'I can't believe the improvement in your children'. And that's because of ranch sorting.
"As far as I'm concerned confidence is everything, and they've gained that much confidence from doing this and now that's translating across into their campdrafting."
The Manning Junior Rodeo Association has held some ranch sorting events over the past two years in Wingham as an alternative to campdrafting as cattle have been hard to find. Campdrafting cattle can only be used once in an event so many more are needed, whereas much less cattle are needed for ranch sorting. It is also kinder to the cattle.
"At Wingham we could get the cattle in a smaller area and we could have it up in the yard off the show ring, where they have the shade of the big gum trees, so it was cooler for the cattle. And we had night events there so it was cooler then, too," Brian said.
"And because they're in a much smaller area they're in their for 10 runs, then they go out to the back of the queue and the next lot comes in so they have time to stand in the water yard in the shade for two or three hours before they get used again."
Wingham Campdraft Club hold monthly events at Wingham Showground. The next event at Wingham is on the weekend of February 21 and 22. For more information call Brian Moore on 0427 570 229.