“Still doin’ it”
Eddie Shadforth is best described as “a natural” when it comes to handling and riding a young colt. His horsemanship skills and abilities have been practised and perfected since early childhood; a childhood begun at Seven Emu and spent in and around Borroloola, in the Gulf area of N.T. Horses and mustering cattle were an integral part of his families’ lives and Steve Craig, Mistake Creek’s manager explains. “His grandfather Willy Shadforth had seven sons … not one was a dud. His daughters were really smart too and handy with horses.”
During his life Eddie has had to acquire another set of skills and abilities; those associated with deafness; a result of meningitis, contracted in early childhood. There is no sign of self-pity, or lack of self esteem and Steve is quick to affirm Eddies’ positive, overcoming attitude. “It doesn’t worry him; his disability is no disability for Eddie. He doesn’t play on it and he’s honed other senses. In the cattle yards there might be a beast coming back at him, and without even looking he’ll step aside. It’s good for young fellas to be with Eddie and see what he can do.”
There’s also no hint of shyness when Eddie speaks and he’s keen to share his experiences. However, it’s great that Weebie (Steve Craig Jnr) and Steve Snr. are on hand to interpret. “He looks for work all the time” Weebie explains and Eddie mentions Meningrita, Manangoora, Mallapunyah and Mistake Creek, Ban Ban Springs and Killarney … the places where he began work and has continued to work over the years. His Uncle, Frank Shadforth has taught him many valuable things, the old fashioned way; hobble camps, coacher mustering, blocking up, and Eddies’ favourite, buckjumping.
“I want to take the young horses in the mob” Eddie says, “make the young horses into the horses I want; quiet them down and hand them on. There are good horses here at Mistake Creek … I’m still doing it (buckjumping) here!” Eddie rode in his first rodeo at the age of fourteen and bull riding remains one of his preferred events.
However, in 2014 there’ll be no more bull riding following an implant operation which will hopefully restore more hearing for Eddie. He is optimistic about the outcome, and satisfied to substitute the bull riding with … saddle bronc!
Eddies’ enthusiasm for and whole hearted involvement with stock work and in particular working with young horses, is a source of inspiration for all who meet up with him. Inherent stockmanship and people skills, sharpened and refined through his disability and put to practical use in his communication with ‘man and beast’ will continue to be reflected in his words “I’m still doin’ it”.