WELL-KNOWN Worrigee horseman Terry Bennett never expected to be declared a national champion at 66.
The man, affectionately known as ‘Buster’, took out the Australia Barrel Horse Association [ABHA] fourth division title, upstaging more than 50 competitors from around Australia.
And he has the shiny belt buckle to prove it.
The national title is staged on a point basis, with each competition throughout the year adding to competitor’s tally.
Competing in a number of monthly events at Goulburn and Cobbitty, Mr Bennett enjoyed a consistent season of performances to top the ladder in his division.
“I had three kids and a couple of grandkids competing and thought I might as well give it a go.
“I really just went along to visit the grandkids and thought if I’m there I might as well compete.
“I never dreamed anything like this would happen but I’m pretty chuffed with it all.”
Better known for his exploits as a bull and bronc rider, he said claiming the national title was a proud moment.
“I very rarely barrel race,” he admitted.
“I was more into riding the bulls, saddle broncs, bareback and competing in the steer wrestling or bulldogging.
“I knew how to barrel race and had been around the sport as my children all competed but it was never my focus.
“I did a bit here and there at the local shows but never seriously competed.”
It’s not Buster’s first big title; he won the Australasian Championship buckle at the Sydney Show in 1979 for the saddleride.
“It’s been a long time between drinks,” he laughed.
It is a remarkable comeback considering he suffered some nasty injuries after a serious fall while competing at the Berry Show a couple of years ago.
“I broke a couple of ribs and few other things,” he said.
He paid credit to his little quarter horse mare Slip Chick.
“I bought her locally, she’s 14 and had been broken in as a two-year-old but really didn’t do much else for the next 12 years or so,” he said.
“She did a few pony club events but mostly was in the paddock.
“She’s quick and agile and has a few brains about her.”
Unsure if he will defend his title, Mr Bennett said he was just as content competing in yard penning events.
In typical laid-back Buster fashion he said. “I don’t know what this year will bring, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
It was double success for the family with his grandson Wyatt also claiming the Sydney Western Riders Series Barrel Racing Tiny Tots championship.