The Gloucester showground was dry and dusty for the final rounds of the Gloucester Stock Horse Challenge on August 4 but this did not diminish the standard of competition.
Contestants travelled from the New England, North Coast and the Hunter Valley to boost local competitors' numbers in the challenge, which has become a popular annual event.
The first two rounds of the challenge each comprised of two-handed cutting and "dry work" patterns on June 2 and 30.
The final day had a hack pattern and a working horse pattern as well as two campdraft runs using a modified course where the first two pegs were left out and the competitors had the option of doing a left or right hand course.
Each of the eight elements of the challenge were scored out of a maximum 100 points, with the points accumulated from each element.
The futurity challenge for horses under five years of age had 19 entrants and was taken out by Bruce Snape riding Tara Vale Megastar (Watchirs Star x Tara Vale Jewels Oak) with a total of 623.5 points.
Megastar improved progressively over the duration of the event being unplaced in the first round but top scored in rounds two and three and an equal third in round four.
The runner-up was Hugh Main on Silverthorn Urban Oak, who placed in the top five in each round to earn 619 points.
There was a record of 25 competitors in the rookie challenge. Jordyn Snape and Tara Vale Playdough (One Moore Playboy x TaraVale Jewel) were clear winners on 636.5 points.
Ken Knight from Millers Forest took out the runner-up prize with Lynken Rhapsody on 598.5 points.
While numbers were down this year in the juvenile challenge, the standard of competition was strong. Callum Bailey rode Elmwood Dynamo to top score with 292 points, ahead of Ellie Butler on Hintons Showtime who gained 233 points.
The five junior competitors had the benefit of instruction from the judges prior to undertaking the competition.
They all showed great improvement and gained in confidence throughout the event.
The eventual winner was Brodie Meredith from Armidale riding Warriors Jessica on 267 points with his sister Lillian Meredith, riding Orana Park Jolene, the runner-up on 251 points.
The Gloucester branch of the Stock Horse Society thanked all of the very generous sponsors, the judges, cattle donors and all volunteers who stepped up on the day to help run the challenge series.
It has become a feature event on the annual calendar of stock horse people in the region.