Comiskey a cut above the competition
NEBO horseman Pete Comiskey is cut from a different cloth.
The undisputed campdraft king boasts a record that's unrivalled in the uniquely Australian sport.
Raised on a Queensland cattle property and brought up on the land, Comiskey was introduced to campdrafting as a boy.
He'd travel the circuit watching his father and brother compete, before getting in the ring himself at the age of eight.
Comiskey took out three juvenile titles before winning his first Australian Campdraft Association national open rider championship in 1991.
He hasn't looked back.
In the 27 years since his he's won the title a staggering 21 times, claiming his 22nd this year to prove he's still at the top of his game.
When he's not running cattle at Westpoint, his 16,600-acre Nebo property, he's teaching young riders the ropes at his campdraft schools or roaming the outback from the Gulf to southern NSW competing - and often winning - drafts.
Comiskey competes for the love of the sport, but cashed in on his decades of hard work in May when he won the inaugural World Championship Gold Buckle Campdraft at Willinga Park on his 10-year-old mare Paris.
The prized $8000 gold buckle and $6000 custom saddle were nice, but chump change in comparison to the $100,000 cheque he took home for a weekend's work.
Comiskey was in Monto last week to run a two-day clinic and fundraiser for his mate and fellow competitor Ken May, who's recovering in hospital from a stroke.
The most decorated competitor in the sport's history said it was an honour to help May, a servant to the Queensland riding community.
"Ken has been a dedicated horseman since he was a young man,” Comiskey said.
"He's a very passionate teacher and devoted his life to training others.
"It was an honour to be invited to Monto to help out.
"We hope and pray he makes a full recovery and gets back in the arena soon.”
It's clear Comiskey shares May's passion for training.
He loves giving back to the sport by passing on his knowledge to the next generation of riders.
For more than two decades, Comiskey has run schools and training camps around Australia and the United States.
Riders travel for days to pick his brain, but he said his main message was one of safety.
"My main drive today is the welfare of the animals and the safety of the competitors,” he said.
"There's a fair bit of risk involved.
"Newcomers have to appreciate how to handle stock and learn how to keep themselves and their horses safe.”
From humble beginning at outback shows, the sport now boasts 11,000 registered participants and industry insiders estimate there's more than 30,000 involved, directly or indirectly, in the Australian campdraft circuit.
Tales of Comiskey's riding exploits will be told at outback pubs for years to come.
Few will be as good as him but the advice he gives to every young rider is simple: "Never stop learning.”
"The combination and communication between man and beast is important but the most important lesson you can learn in this sport is to never stop learning,” he said.
"Learn about horses, cattle and people in general - there is so much to learn.”