When you hear Lois Skuthorpe is one of the finest ranch sorters in the region, it comes as no surprise to also hear she comes from prime riding stock.
Skuthorpe – who took the crown in Dubbo this weekend gone – can trace her connection back to pioneering rider and competitive rider Lance Skuthorpe, who rode in the 1930s.
She said she’s the only member of the Skuthorpe name carrying on the riding legacy, which after years of barrel racing and cutting has now become competing in ranch sorting.
Ranch sorting involves a team of two riders lining up in a pen full of roughly a dozen cattle – all numbered – and an official will read out a number.
One rider has to herd that head through an open gate while their teammate stops any other cattle from making it out. The idea is to have the most cattle herded in a time frame.
“Sometimes you might get two, sometimes you might get four … sometimes you might get 10, sometimes the wrong cow goes through and you get disqualified,” Skuthorpe said.
She’s been riding since she was 10 years old, but only took up ranch sorting three years ago, and this is her first year having a tilt at any sort of title.
“Last year I was doing alright but didn’t follow the points but wasn’t following the points, but this year when I saw I had a chance of winning overall I thought I’d get in and give it a shot,” she said.
She said she attended an event which had an American rider teaching the skills, and despite having an injured hand and no supposed to be riding, she found herself drawn in.
“By the end of the day I gave in and had found a new sport,” she said.
“I thought it was going to be a good event for me and my horse to do, instead of going for little rides.
“Everyone was lovely and really friendly and it’s from children through to opens … a good family event.”
Her horse is affectionately known as Tommy but registered as Red Roy.
“He used to be a pretty good cutting horse, he’s 20 so you’ve got to look after him but if you do he’ll keep going for a long while,” Skuthorpe said.
Skuthorpe is off to compete in the Hunter Valley on November 10 and to Tamworth later this year, while the totals will be counted up for the calendar year in January.
Updated overall results from the Australia Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo weren’t available online at time of print.
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