Australia’s most talented riders have saddled up for the third annual Cowgirls Gathering in Kilkivan, Queensland, with two young cowgirls riding home with top honours.
Cailin Bobbermen, 28, from Waterford, Queensland took out the Race to Ranch event. The initiative offers ex-racehorses a new lease on life and was sponsored by Queensland Off The Track, and Cinches Down Under.
For Cailin (pictured below), the win was particularly hard fought for after a show jumping accident in 2021 saw her shatter her collarbone and begin a long road to recovery.
Cailin Bobbermen riding Darcy. Photo: The Canon Cowgirl
“I start to tear up just thinking about it, it’s been such a journey coming back from a decent injury,” Cailin said.
Cailin only began riding seriously four years ago and said she’s been fortunate to have worked with great coaches who have guided her in the direction of some special horses – none more so than Darcy, the horse she won Race to Ranch on.
“He’d (Darcy) finished racing and had sat in the paddock for 12 months when my coach offered him to me to use in July and I fell in love with him and bought him four weeks ago,” Cailin said.
Cailin Bobbermen. Photo: Equinox Images
“I was so lucky that we’d spent the time developing our foundation and bond and he stepped up to the plate. It felt like a really special win.”
Having been to the inaugural Cowgirls Gathering and being forced to sit out 2022 while recovering from her injury, Cailin said her return in 2023 was much longed for.
“I’ve been to lots of clinics, had lots of lessons but the environment at Cowgirls Gathering is such a mix of people, experienced riders to learners, every discipline going, but you can go into a clinic and lesson and have no idea and everyone will be straight in there to help. It’s the place to ask a stupid question without feeling stupid,” she said.
It’s a sentiment Grace Roth (pictured below) agrees with. The 18-year-old from Eidsvold in Queensland’s North Burnett region took out the Reined Cow Pony Challenge, testing participants in two phases, including a dry work pattern and wet work cut out.
Grace Roth riding Jacko. Photo: The Canon Cowgirl
Grace won on her five-year-old gelding, Jacko and took home a service fee to the renowned stallion, Ozzy Cat owned by Sean O’Hanlon. The competition was sponsored by O’Hanlon Equine.
“To win on my own horse against some very, very good riders was a really proud moment,” Grace said.
“This was my second Cowgirls Gathering and the people just make it a really amazing event that I look forward to each year.”
Grace is coached and mentored by Leah Read from Mundubbera, owner of Leah Read Performance Horses and Working Dog. Leah won second place in the event, and will also welcome Grace as an employee next year when she finishes her schooling in December.