Draft­ing up a cham­pion

Hay­ley Ah­ern rides into every new chal­lenge

Central and North Burnett Times - - SPORT - Philippe Coquerand philippe.coquerand@cnbtimes.com.au

CAMPDRAFTING: It’s a sport that re­quires per­sis­tence and a “never give up” at­ti­tude and for horse rid­ing cham­pion, Hay­ley Ah­ern, these traits are no­tice­able.

Born in Kil­coy and at­tend­ing both pri­mary and sec­ondary school there, Ah­ern de­cided to study vet­eri­nary nurs­ing at Ithaca Col­lege for five years.

“I stud­ied whilst work­ing. Af­ter 12 years of work­ing in Kil­coy as a vet­eri­nary nurse I moved to Gayndah with my fam­ily and took up a sur­gi­cal nurse po­si­tion in Mun­dub­bera work­ing there for six years,” Ah­ern said.

En­joy­ing her job im­mensely and get­ting to cam­p­draft at mul­ti­ple shows, Ah­ern said her love for horse rid­ing be­gan when she was a young girl.

“Af­ter com­plet­ing high school I went to the Dalby Stock-horse sale when I was 22 and pur­chased a horse,” Ah­ern said.

“We rode horses on the farm but not much as a kid, I de­cided I wanted to do campdrafting and went with my mum to Dalby.

“We weren’t re­ally horsey peo­ple, but with campdrafting it was the adren­a­line rush you get when you put the beast around that drew me to it.

“It’s not all about win­ning, it’s about hav­ing a good time and get­ting to com­pete in some­thing you love.”

Campdrafting is a dif­fi­cult sport that doesn’t al­ways go ac­cord­ing to plan, she said.

“It’s the sort of sport where you could be a win­ner one day and face de­feat the next,” she said.

“It’s what makes you go back and do it, the ad­dic­tion of draw­ing a good beast, some­times you can look and think it’s a pearler but then

it turns out to be no good.”

The drafts have in­creased in pop­u­lar­ity, with some events host­ing up to 200-300 com­peti­tors.

“They’re get­ting more and more pop­u­lar, what used to be just 30-40 com­peti­tors can go up­wards to 300 com­peti­tors in one draft,” Ah­ern said.

“It’s good to see the sport has gained pop­u­lar­ity and that more rid­ers are in­ter­ested in campdrafting.”

Ah­ern at­tended the Biggen­den Show at the week­end and placed well in some of the drafts.

“I rode the young horse called Sunny’s Du­pli­cate and it’s a good horse, it won at the Gympie Show and then again at the Biggen­den Show in the Stock­man’s Chal­lenge,” Ah­ern said.

“It was a bit of a shock to win the chal­lenge but it was a nice feel­ing.”

Ah­ern lives in Gayndah with her fam­ily and says her great­est highlight is her three chil­dren and hus­band.

“I just love them to bits. My old­est son is called Mac and he’s seven, Darcy is six and our girl is nearly 18 months old,” Ah­ern said.

“I also achieved an­other goal this year which was to go to the The Aus­tralian Rein­ing Breeder’s Cup event held in Dalby.

“If it wasn’t for my hus­band who pushed me out the door and said ‘go and do it’, or my two other friends who en­cour­aged me and sup­ported me, I wouldn’t have at­tended.

“I ended up plac­ing in the top 10 so I was very happy and thrilled, didn’t think I would end up do­ing it for an­other few years.”

Her young chil­dren love drafts but Ah­ern said they are not so keen on rid­ing horses sim­ply for leisure.

“The boys love to ride, they love to draft, they aren’t keen to just trot around as they will think ‘why? We want to ride’,” she said.

Ah­ern said trust was para­mount when rid­ing.

“You don’t need a world beater horse to win a cam­p­draft, you just have to trust your horse and have a good time.”

❝ It’s the sort of sport where you could be a win­ner one day and face de­feat the next. — Hay­ley Ah­ern

PHOTO: ERICA MUR­REE

WIN­NING COM­BI­NA­TION: Vicky El­liott presents Hay­ley Ah­ern of Gayndah with the Mark El­liott Memo­rial for win­ning the stock­man's chal­lenge on Sunny's Du­pli­cate at the Biggen­den Show on Satur­day.

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