A Gulf of Carpentaria stockman has travelled to New South Wales to participate in the King Of The Ranges competition for the second consecutive year.
Stewart Foster travelled from Doomadgee to Murrurundi, NSW on January 24 in preparation for the King Of The Ranges competition that will take place on February 21-24.
The KOTR competition highlights the traditional skills of Australian stockmanship and bushcraft through a series of challenges.
Stewart flew down and hired the same horse he had in 2018 from Rainwood Park Stockhorses, Hunter Valley, and began training upon his arrival.
KOTR spokesperson, Wendy Seckold, said Stewart had been training early in the mornings to beat the heat.
“A training day was held at the challenge venue on Australia Day weekend, so riders could be instructed on the requirements for packing their packhorse under challenge conditions,” Ms Seckold said.
“Stewart participated in this training to refresh his knowledge from the 2018 Challenge as most competitors are training year round for these events, Stewart is at a distinct disadvantage having only four weeks to train on a borrowed horse.”
Despite this handicap, Stewart was progressing well with his training.
“He is also practising cutting tape targets with his stock whip while riding past the targets and getting some practice at cross country jumps,” Ms Seckold said.
“He is required to perform a stock whip routine of his own format lasting for 30 seconds as well as a bareback routine lasting one minute.”
Stewart will compete in the Novice section of the KOTR competition starting on the first day of competition (Thursday) with the competitors’ gear and vet check. Competitors must use the same stock saddle for all events and carry a stock whip and oilskin raincoat throughout the competition.
On Friday and Saturday competitors participate in teams and complete the six preliminary disciplines of Packsaddle, Stock Handling, Whip crack, Bareback Obstacle Course, Horse shoeing and Cross Country jumps.
The finals, conducted on the Sunday consist of a Wild Horse Catch and a Stock Saddle Buck Jump with the score from these events added to their preliminary event totals to determine the winner.
Stewart was able to compete in the KOTR thanks to the Aboriginal Development Benefits Trust.
The ADBT strive to find young people who will show initiative and become leaders in their community and support them in experiences such as the King of the Ranges.
“In the past two years ADBT have sent two guys plus $5000 sponsorship to keep the KOTR Indigenous Program continuing,” Ms Seckold said.
“The ADBT is aimed at furthering their all round development and their confidence in dealing with as many situations as possible.
“This is why the KOTR Committee includes various activities other than just the competition.”
Since his arrival Stewart has been involved in many activities including visiting Walhallow Aboriginal Public School at Caroona to talk about life in the Gulf Country.
He has also attended the Tamworth Country Music Festival and Rodeo, attended a Tom Curtain Show in Scone, assisted local farmers with mustering cattle for sale, assisted with mustering and drenching sheep and helped the KOTR Committee members dig trenches and lay pipeline for a new water supply at the Challenge venue.
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