Balancing the benefits
CAMPDRAFT: It’s a sport that requires a lot of skill and a bit of luck, and Col Hewitt has got his fair share of both.
As a campdrafter with over 50 years of experience the Theodore rider has seen a significant number of changes to the sport, and even the Warwick event.
“I’ve not always competed at Warwick, I’d say I’ve been coming for about 15 years,” Hewitt said.
“I’ve not come every year — but we’ve definitely been coming on and off for 15 years.
“There’s been a lot of changes — it’s much more professional now definitely a stronger competition now.”
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Hewitt, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007.
While it has affected some of his ability partner Julie Dawson said he still competes as he always did.
“Even though Parkinson’s affects your movement, it might take longer for Col to mount up but his balance, and I watch him very closely, and his balance is still wonderful,” Dawson said.
“He did a very good yard in Chinchilla, still does strong yards — I guess when you’ve ridden since you’re three, it’s something that he’s never lost.
“At the same time, Col is just very stoic and he doesn’t complain and he just keeps going on.”
Now based on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, the pair travel across the state competing at various drafts.
“Col still enjoys the drafting and still does some horse trading, and he’s just built a lovely arena,” she said.
“We do eight or ten drafts a year, we try to do closer ones but we still went to Roma and a bit further.
“Col still does whatever drafts he can get into and whatever ones fit his schedule.”
Hewitt credits his ability to continue in the sport to his horses, that he said have a special connection to him.
“Every horse is different — with this horse Sweet Acres, she is my number one mare and we do have a very special connection,” Hewitt said.
“She gives her very best for me.
“Once I’m in the saddle, I’ve got a great centre of balance — they (the horses) can do what they like then.”
Despite his condition, Hewitt still has a passion for the sport and hopes that he can remain involved for as long as possible.
“I enjoy watching good horses and good young competitors coming along, it’s wonderful to watch them and appreciate the next generation of riders coming through — especially those riders in the 30 — 45 bracket.”