HORSEBALL continued its young development at Tamworth’s Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre on the weekend when the Australian Horseball Association held its third national championships.
While Carey’s Freight Lines and Cubbaroo played out an open final, Landmark looked assured of the mixed title after some intense round-robin games.
The Australian Junior Horseball team, which flies out for France and an international tournament early next month, also played in the championships, its six blossoming stars having some outstanding match practice for their first tour.
Tamworth’s Grant Biffin helped form the AHA four years ago.
He was also playing for the Australian Stock Horse Society team over the weekend, one of 12 teams taking part.
“We formed the association about four years ago and at the end of that first year we had our first national championships, here in Tamworth,” Biffin said.
“This year we’ve got 12 teams – we’re getting bigger and have a good bunch of people here with a lot of new faces.
“And we also have the kids (Australian junior team) here .
“It’s been good for them.”
He said having the AHA’s first touring side go overseas in a few weeks’ time was a great development for the sport.
Another development has also been the acceptance of pony clubs around the state.
“They’ve all taken horseball on,” he said.
“They are all behind it.
“I think we’ve done something like 15 to 20 pony clubs.
“I’ve been as far as Gloucester and out to Coonabarabran.
“Some others have been up to Barraba and Armidale.”
Quirindi teenager Lachlan Robinson was having his first game of horseball at the championships on the weekend.
“I’m really enjoying it,” the Year 12 Quirindi High School student said.
Robinson was playing with the Australian Stock Horse Society team.
“We’ve won two and lost one so far,” he said.
Mike Rowland is a horseballing fan and, when the tentpegging star is not playing, he coaches juniors and was also “calling” all the action at the nationals on Saturday.
He’d just finished the Barraba/Careys Freight Lines match where Travis Dixon’s late goal won the game 5-4 for Careys.
Dixon is one of the six young players off to France with the Australian Junior team.
“It’s been good,” Rowland said of the championships while taking a breather from his announcing duties.
“We’ve got 12 teams this year.
“It’s great the Queenslanders have got going and brought a team down.
“We had Queensland Cotton last year but that was made up mainly of the Wee Waa boys.
“And the Barraba kids are here too.
“I was up there recently at their pony camp.
‘They didn’t think they’d be good enough to play but we got them to come down and they have gone real well.”
Richard Riggs was umpiring over the weekend and, while he also coaches, he is also the team manager with the Australian Junior team leaving for France.
Victor Collett is the team coach and they are delighted to have such a talented and keen young team of six heading to Montpelier for the Heinz Wolff Under 16 International Tournament.
“We have four days of competition over there,” Riggs said.
“It’s going to be a great experience for the kids.”
Collett said Brazil also appears to be another “first timer” at the international tournament.
“We’re up against Italy and France,” Collett said.
“They will be very strong. They’ve been at it since the early ’70s and they will know what they are doing.”