DARREN Holmberg was keeping a lid on it, but he was seriously chuffed after winning the prestigious invitation-only Casterton Kelpie Muster Stockman’s Challenge on Saturday.
On his second attempt, the 49 year-old Portland smelter worker and part-time farm operator won the event, which is a tricky obstacle course for sheep, man, dog and horse, held during the Casterton Kelpie Muster.
Darren first rode horses as a child and teenager on his parent’s farm, but said he wasn’t too keen on them back then.
“I only started riding again four years ago after a break of about 30 years,” he said.
“I was 46 when I took it up again.”
But since getting back in the saddle Darren now prefers to do all the sheep and cattle work on the 70 hectare farm on horseback, has competed in a few stockman’s challenges and done some horsemanship clinics. He also regular plays the part of Kelpie legend Jack Gleeson on horseback during the annual Casterton Kelpie Muster parade.
On Saturday Darren, riding 5.5 year-old quarterhorse mare Rosie for the second time in the Stockman’s Challenge, scored 91 points in the first round horse section and 85 points in the dog section with GoGetta Princess, to make the final.
It was the first time Darren had competed on horseback with Princess, who has had some yard trial success, but he said the 5.5 year-old Kelpie bitch was easy to train and very willing to please.
His combined first round score of 176 put him just two points behind leader Sharon Barry of Glenthompson, going into the final. Darren said he was happy with his sheep work in the first round, but in the final things changed with fresh sheep. But he was still able to win by five points from seasoned competitor Sharon Barry, riding Jindalla Park All That’s Glitters and with Kelpie Andron Cliche.
In the final Darren increased his combined score to 182 points to record a total of 358 points, and pull ahead of Sharon, who was bravely returning to event after having a fall last year, but scored 175 to place second overall with 353 points. Third place went to Trevor Scott on Max with Kelpie Broken River Kev, on 351 points.
The top horse section scoring team in the first round was Kath Reid on Brego, from Gippsland, with 92 points out of 100. Sharon Barry and Cliché won the dog section with 94 points.
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