IT WAS smiles all round for Nicholas Ward and Nikki Wollens when they were packing up their truck after a big weekend at the Rathdowney Memorial Campdraft.
Although they were not taking home any ribbons this year, the pair had a great time at Nicholas's home-town competition and were happy with how their horses performed, which was the most important thing for them.
Rathdowney, about 30km from Beaudesert in southern Queensland, hosted a huge weekend of drafting, with more than 270 horses nominated in the novice event alone.
This year Nicholas and Nikki had spelled most of their experienced drafting horses, so their younger mounts were having their first starts.
Nikki joked she got "big fat zeros” and Nicholas said his horses had made the final in the maiden and novice, but he "buggered it up from there”.
The Ward family has a strong tradition with the draft and Nicholas has been competing at the grounds since he was about eight years old. His grandfather, Tony Ward, was one of the founding members who started the competition more than 60 years ago.
"The maiden draft here is a memorial to my grandfather,” he said. "I put up the prize of a service fee and mum and dad did the trophy.”
Given that his family has a heavy involvement in the competition, over the three-day event he spent much of his time helping out when he was not competing himself, working in the back yard to help clear cattle from the camp.
"When it's your local draft, you like to see things roll along nicely,” he said.
"I think it's been a good year.”
Although Nikki's kids were full of enthusiasm for horses, she said they were still in training before being allowed to start to competing themselves.
"They are still practising,” she said. "When they prove to me they can be in complete control of their horse they will get a go.”
While advice often comes freely at campdrafts, for them the best tip they would pass on to a new competitor was to "just have fun”.
"Don't worry about the ribbons, all that matters is that you are happy with how your horse goes,” Nicholas said.
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