ECHUCA horsemen travelled four hours to Corryong, Victoria, on Thursday for the Man from Snowy River Bush Festival.
Each year the four-day festival attracts riders from around Australia, some as far a field as Northern Queensland, to compete in the $80,000 Man from Snowy River Challenge.
It’s the ultimate test of all-round horsemanship and this year Echuca’s Bruno Robinson took out the 2017 rookie rider award.
Echuca’s Dean Oliver, Rocky Acquisto and Kyle Newton also competed in the challenge and met a lot of competitors throughout the festival.
The rookie himself thought he had ‘‘gone all right’’ — which was an understatement to say the least.
‘‘I have been around horses since I was about 10,’’ Robinson said.
‘‘I’ve done a lot of camp draft competitions and always enjoyed riding through the bush.
‘‘I decided to give challenges a go and after a few smaller ones, which I really enjoyed, thought I’d give the big one a crack.’’
Robinson, 28, competed against 14 other riders all in their first challenge, with around 70 riders competing in total, in a series of events to determine the best all-rounder.
The events included whip cracking (freestyle and target), a pack horse event, shoeing, a bare-back obstacle course ride and free ride, cattle handling on horseback and a cross-country ride to finish the challenge.
As a farrier, shoeing a horse came naturally but he enjoyed every event and did well enough in each to take out the rookie title.
‘‘It was a difficult cross-country course and the horse I was riding had only done it once before,’’ Robinson said.
‘‘It’s definitely something I’d go back and do again and this time I want to keep training and see if I can go even better.’’
Robinson was riding Classic Doc, owned by Steve Haydon, who had been a champion camp draft horse in Warwick.
‘‘I’ll probably continue to do a lot of bush riding and log jumping and practice more tricky tasks with horses like going through gates before the next one,’’ Robinson said.