Meet Deb McGhee, Australia’s excessive cowboy racing champion.
If you have not heard of the competitors, likelihood is you are not alone.
However loyalists to the nation’s fastest-growing equine sport — which contains water crossings and lassoing — hope it’s going to quickly develop into a family title.
“I’ve all the time needed a horse, ever since I used to be just a little lady,” Ms McGhee mentioned.
“They’re only a nice animal and nice to be round.”
Simply 18 months after taking to the sector at an excessive cowboy racing competitors in Agnes Water, 500 kilometres north of Brisbane, she gained the Australian novice championships held in Ballarat in Victoria.
“I used to be on the lookout for one thing a bit totally different, and it’s kind of of a race, so it is meant to be fairly excessive,” she mentioned.
“Ever since then I have been hooked, it is simply superb.”
‘Not a full-blown yahoo factor’
Regardless of its progress in reputation lately, there are fewer than 15 excessive cowboy racing golf equipment in Australia.
Members of native teams have been travelling to regional exhibits throughout the nation in a push to get extra individuals concerned.
“We’re actually eager to push and develop the game,” Southern Cross Excessive Cowboy vp Janeen Greaves mentioned.
“We’re actually eager to assist and promote different golf equipment in the event that they need to become involved too.”
Ms Greaves mentioned it had been exhausting convincing those who regardless of the “excessive” title, the game was not a “full blown yahoo factor”.
“That is been our greatest impediment, I believe, to elucidate that it is not simply come and go flat out and flog your horse,” she mentioned.
“We’re not about that in any respect.
“We’re on the lookout for horses with keen riders who’re form and people horse and rider combos that work rather well collectively.”
So, what’s it?
Excessive cowboy racing has its origins in Texas within the US, the place a well known equestrian invented the game to assist his college students enhance their relationship with their horses.
It entails opponents navigating an enviornment filled with obstacles.
Ms Greaves mentioned the game was “utterly totally different” to equestrian sports activities like dressage and present leaping.
“I might in all probability describe excessive cowboy racing as an impediment course on horseback,” she mentioned.
“It is a mixture of an entire vary of disciplines which might be integrated into the one sport.”
Opponents are scored for his or her horsemanship and velocity, in addition to their means to finish obstacles.
“Mainly, you are pointed on every impediment,” Ms Greaves mentioned.
“You get factors for a way you strategy the impediment, the way you get by means of it and the way you depart from the impediment.
“Then you definitely add up all of the impediment scores, you add in your horsemanship rating after which the time comes into it as effectively.”
Decide James Scott mentioned the obstacles may embody water crossings, bridges and even lassoing.
“The obstacles which might be on the market are to imitate what you do on the farm,” he mentioned.
“We would have a rope gate, you would possibly go and do some roping to catch a cow, your step-up bridges are like once you’re coming right into a creek crossing and you have to step up and out.
“It is to imitate these kinds of circumstances that you simply would possibly come throughout that you simply and your horse are going to should deal with by yourself.”
Altering programs, social gathering environment
Mr Scott mentioned to make the game much more thrilling, the course obstacles and order modified each competitors.
“You will see programs which might be very shut, however you may by no means come throughout the identical course twice,” he mentioned.
“You do not know what you have bought till 10 minutes earlier than you stroll out.”
Ms Greaves mentioned the intense cowboy racing crowds additionally set the game aside.
“We’re fairly loud in our sport,” she mentioned.
“It is not like different equestrian sports activities the place you possibly can’t actually clap till the very finish, we’re removed from that.
“We cheer, we yahoo, we have got loud music going so yeah, it is fairly a celebration environment.”
With Australian champion underneath her belt, Ms McGhee has turned her attentions to the world championships in Texas in November.
“I believe world champion would simply be superb, I believe that is the subsequent step for me now, simply on the novice stage,” she mentioned.
She mentioned she was excited to compete in opposition to excessive riders from the world over.
“They trip in Belgium, Israel, France, in fact Australia, so I might simply like to go over to America and compete. That might be superb,” she mentioned.
Ms McGhee mentioned she inspired different riders to comply with in her footsteps and take a look at their hand at excessive cowboying.
“You have to give it a go,” she mentioned.
“It challenges your self, challenges your horses and you have to smile and have enjoyable.”