Cowgirls riding high after thrilling victory at Kilkivan gathering

Top prizes at the third annual Cowgirls Gathering in Kilkivan QLD went to Cailin Bobbermen and Grace Roth with more than 700 women from across the country competing

Women came from all parts of the country competed at the third annual Cowgirls Gathering as a tough summer was forgotten with over 700 celebrating their lives, community and ultimate passion – horses

Australia’s most talented riders saddled up for the third annual Cowgirls Gathering in Kilkivan, Queensland, with Cailin Bobbermen from Waterford and Grace Roth from Eidsvold Queensland riding home with top honours. 

Cailin Bobbermen 28 from Waterford Queensland took out the Race to Ranch event. The initiative offers ex-racehorses a new lease on life and was sponsored by Queensland Off The Track, and Cinches Down Under. 

For Cailin the win was particularly hard fought, after a show jumping accident in 2021 resulted in a shattered collarbone, it turned into a long hard road to recovery. 

“I start to tear up just thinking about it, it’s been such a journey coming back from a major injury,” Cailin explained. 

Cailin only began riding seriously four years ago and said she’s been fortunate to have worked with great coaches who have guided her in the direction of some special horses – none more so than Darcy, the horse she won Race to Ranch on. 

Cailin Bobbermen 28 from Waterford Queensland took out the Race to Ranch event on Darcy

“Darcy was finished racing and had sat in the paddock for 12 months when my coach offered him to me to use in July and I fell in love with him and bought him four weeks ago,” Cailin added. 

“I was so lucky that we’d spent the time developing our foundation and bond and he stepped up to the plate. It felt like a really special win.” 

Having been to the inaugural Cowgirls Gathering and being forced to sit out 2022 while recovering from her injury, Cailin said her return in 2023 was much longed for. 

“I’ve been to lots of clinics, had lots of lessons but the environment at Cowgirls Gathering is such a mix of people, experienced riders to learners, every discipline going, but you can go into a clinic and lesson and have no idea and everyone will be straight in there to help. It’s the place to ask a stupid question without feeling stupid,” Cailin concluded. 

And it’s a sentiment Grace Roth agrees with. The 18-year-old from Eidsvold in Queensland’s North Burnett region took out the Reined Cow Pony Challenge, testing  participants in two phases, including a dry work pattern and wet work cut out. 

Grace won on her five-year-old gelding, Jacko and took home a service fee to the renowned stallion, Ozzy Cat managed by Sean O’Hanlon. The competition was sponsored by O’Hanlon Equine.

“To win on my own horse against some very, very good riders was a really proud moment,” Grace explained. 

“This was my second Cowgirls Gathering and the people just make it a really amazing event that I look forward to each year.”

Grace is coached and mentored by Leah Read from Mundubbera, owner of Leah Read Performance Horses and Working Dog. Leah won second place in the event and will also welcome Grace as an employee next year when she finishes her schooling in December 2024.

Grace Roth 18 from Eidsvold Queensland took out the Reined Cow Pony Challenge riding Jacko

 Cowgirls attracts hundreds

 A tough summer is forgotten as over 700 in attendance at the annual Cowgirls Gathering has given rural women a chance to celebrate their lives, community, resilience, and ultimate passion – horses. 

The third annual Cowgirls Gathering in Kilkivan Queensland saw more than 700 women camp, learn in a supportive environment, and compete for more $20,000 in prizes. 

“We’re all connected by our love for horses but at the heart of it is women supporting women and it’s just been a phenomenal three days,” explained Amanda Loy the event founder. 

“We’re facing drought and market conditions are tough, but the quality of the cattle and the cattle events was just incredible and that’s certainly something we’re seeing a huge demand for.

Amanda Loy founded the three-day Cowgirls Gathering that has struck a chord with horse women across the country

Amanda continued, “The Cowgirls Gathering is looking forward to meeting increased demand for cow horse and cattle sports events in 2024 and hosting more clinics and competitions year-round. 

“We are working on plans already for next year and have some renowned educators in mind.  This is about building a model for all Cowgirls out there.  I’m super excited to take on more cattle events and provide more intensive, immersive experiences that women can build upon before the next Cowgirls Gathering,” Amanda added. 

Events include a stunning Liberty horse display, to all disciplines including Cowboy Dressage, Cutting, and Horsemanship, activities focusing on overall health and wellbeing including mindset and line dancing, 

“The biggest compliment that we’re receiving time and time again from women is that they felt safe and would recommend it to a friend – you can’t beat that,” Amanda concluded.

About Cowgirls Gathering

Cowgirls Gathering celebrates the rich heritage that horses hold and offers a platform for female riders to showcase their talent, share their stories, and connect with like-minded enthusiasts from across the country. The three-day event, founded by Amanda Loy and ran from Friday 29 September until Sunday 1 October 2023.