WORLD-CLASS American judge Diana McMurtrey was moved by national stories to introduce a tribute to Australian troops for her Extreme Cowboys trip Down Under.
Ms McMurtrey was in Ballarat to judge the two-day national cowboys championships, based on North American ranching, and requested a station be included for riders to pay tribute to Australian servicemen and women.
Downunder Extreme Cowboys president Shane Woodall, whose club is hosting the event, was impressed with the effort Ms McMurtrey made in researching Australian and New Zealand culture. The American expert will be judging in New Zealand close to Anzac Day.
"Cowboy tradition is to show respect to heritage and tradition and paying tribute to our Anzacs is part of that," Mr Woodall said.
Cowboys and cowgirls paused at the station, a cross with topped with a Vietnam veteran slouch hat, as one of the final tests in the obstacle-like course.
Cowboy tradition is to show respect to heritage and tradition and paying tribute to our Anzacs is part of that.Shane Woodall, Downunder Extreme Cowboys president
Unlike rodeo, cowboys and cowgirls are tested on what Mr Woodall said was more everyday horsework, like crossing bridges, opening gates and cattle sorting.
Competitors are scored on each obstacle (including entry and departure), horsemanship and time. Mr Woodall said it was about finding the right balance between speed and finesse.
Extreme Cowboy is the fastest-growing equine sport in the world, Mr Woodall said, with origins in Canada and the United States. Mr Woodall was one of the key drivers in bringing the sport to Australia and there are now about eight clubs.
The nationals at Mount Rowan Equestrian Centre were open to competitors as young as seven. There was also a green horse division for horses and riders new to the sport.
Riders from Queensland to Tasmania were in action with some extra horses on loan from across the region. Mr Woodall said the sport had a strong family focus, including support for each other.
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