AFTER a year away from the campdraft scene, Preston Maroske from Murgon made his return at the Proston Golden Spurs Campdraft.
Hounded by previous riding injuries, he braved the saddle in front of a large crowd of onlookers to prove he still had what it took to be a drafter.
"I had last year off because of a knee operation after my left knee dislocated a couple of times," he said.
While he did not have the best runs at the weekend, it was a relief for the contract musterer to compete once again.
But just because he was still on the road to recovery, it did not mean he took the competition lightly.
"I've done 10 runs this weekend," Maroske said.
As one of the early drafts in the season it warmed him up for later on in the year as he re-adjusts to the pace of the competition.
With the cattle donated from farms a short distance away, Maroske noticed they were in good shape and more complacent to his demands in the arena.
"They were consistent, they're all running the same," he said.
"They're a lot calmer and in better condition."
With the majority of the season yet to come, Maroske aims to compete in as many drafts as possible so he can to get himself back into form.
Maroske was not the only one to return to the Proston campdraft.
Proston's own Graham Blanch, 70, came to watch his sons compete.
While he did not actually compete, he has been tied to the campdraft ever since it was founded.
"I went to the first one - I rode the horses in from 15km away," Blanch said.
"The ground wasn't top dressed and it rained, so it was slippery."
Amazed at how much the campdraft had developed, with trucks pulling in horse floats with multiple horses for each rider, it was a world away from when it first started where he was only able to ride two horses in from his property.
Blanch also noted how good the cattle were at the weekend as trucks drove new lots in after each class to keep them fresh.
"They've been extremely good, they've all been borrowed locally," he said.
"They're better if they are used once; once they've been used they know where to go (so it makes the competition easier)."
Campdrafting not just for cowboys
TANSEY'S Alisha Donald showed no signs of fear or nerves as she rode against the large contingent of male competitors in the open, novice, maiden and juvenile classes. "You just give it back to them," she said.
This confidence comes from years of competing; riding in campdrafts for as long as she could remember after her family brought her up in the sport. Hooked by the challenge and the adrenaline rush, Donald has no desire to stop competing anytime soon.
She has also been assisted by professional drafters Nathan Wilson and Huon Smith along the way.
"With Huon Smith, he rides with me everyday," Donald said. "He taught me how to build a relationship with different horses."
As a result, Donald brought three horses to the campdraft.
"If you bring more horses you have a better chance of making the final," she said.
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