Stock horses take centre stage at Maitland Show

SHOW TIME: Participants in the 2019 flag ride at Maitland Show. Picture: FILE IMAGE.
SHOW TIME: Participants in the 2019 flag ride at Maitland Show. Picture: FILE IMAGE.

A passion for the flag ride, born as part of the opening ceremony celebrations at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, will continue as Maitland Show hosts the RM Williams Stock Horse Flag Ride.

Riders from the eastern branch of the Australian Stock Horse Society will be in action entertaining the crowd in the centre ring at 3.30pm and 6pm on Saturday.

The unique event sees the stock horses and their riders carry out manoeuvres including crossovers and line formations while carrying flags.

Lead rider Bruce Moxey said the passion for the flag ride, which sets the moves to Australian music, was born in 2000. Three of the riders at Maitland were part of that iconic opening ride.

Their passion has been carried on, with a new generation of stock horse riders coming through to literally pick up the banner.

"There's nothing more special than riding an Australian Stock Horse under a flag that means something to you to some nice Australian music," Mr Moxey said.

The 16 riders involve range in age from 18 to 70 years, practicing weekly to ensure the moves are exactly right.

"It's all in the timing, with the crossovers, spirals - everything has to be timed and the intervals have to be just right or there will be crashes," he said.

The group carries three flags - the Australian flag, the Stock Horse flag and the RM Williams flag. RM Williams came on board as a supporter of the group, outfitting them with matching uniforms.

All of the riders will be on the back of a registered Australian stock horse.

"Most of us have been riding stock horses all of our lives," Mr Moxey said.

Mr Moxey's 10-year-old chestnut stallion has the perfect nature for riding in tandem, he said.

"I believe in any discipline the most important thing is temperament," he said.

The group has had a close association with the Maitland Show for many years,

Many of the riders will also be in action at the Show's horse events during the weekend. The Show will have four to six rings in almost constant operation on Saturday and Sunday as one of the last remaining events to allow riders to qualify for the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which begins on April 3.

The eastern branch of the Australian Stock Horse Society is coming into a busy period, including appearances at the King of the Ranges at Murrurundi, the Mudgee Show and the Stock Horse National Championships on April 25.