Bill Abraham. Picture: Gerard Walsh
Bill Abraham. Picture: Gerard Walsh

Campdrafting scene devastated by loss of respected horsemen

THE equine community has been left devastated by the loss of three of its finest horsemen - Bill Abraham, John Brekelmans, and Peter Gesler.

Bill and Peter were killed in separate tragic accidents and John passed away suddenly at the weekend.

Bill Abraham has been described as "well-known and well-loved" in his community.

The 65-year-old Texas man was killed in a hay bale accident yesterday afternoon.

The Queensland Ambulance Service were called to the scene at Beebo on the Texas-Yelarbon Rd on Sunday afternoon, following a report a hay bale had fallen on a man.

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said Mr Abraham died at the scene.

Mr Abraham was a big part of the campdrafting community, as a competitor and a judge.

President of the Goondiwindi and District Campdraft Association, Stephen Wells, had known Mr Abraham for almost 20 years, and was shocked by his passing.

"It was a big shock to everyone. I still can't believe it myself. I only saw him a few days ago at his place, I can't believe it," Mr Wells said.

"I used to shoe his horses for him, I'm a farrier. I'd helped him do odd jobs on his place.

"Everybody is very sad, he was well-known and well-liked in the community.

"He was a good, soft-hearted fella. He would always do anything to help anyone."

John Brekelmans was a successful horse breeder from Gracemere, near Rockhampton, well-respected in the cutting and campdraft communities.

Mr Brekelmans passed away on Sunday after he collapsed suddenly.

President of the National Cutting Horse Association, Peter Shumack, said Mr Brekelmans was supposed to compete at the Darling Downs Cutting Club Futurity in Toowoomba today.

John Brekelmans. Picture: Dave Noonan
John Brekelmans. Picture: Dave Noonan

"He was to compete in the open non-professional class," Mr Shumack said.

"That class will now be named in John's honour. He was supposed to travel hear today for the event.

"Everybody is just in shock."

Mr Shumack said Mr Brekelmans had made a huge contribution to the cutting community through his legendary bloodlines, and his knowledge of horses.

"He was a guy that was always there to help the young aspiring horsemen. He would always give his knowledge and was an inspiration to the next generation of horsemen coming through," he said.

"He was very quiet spoken but very witty. He was a guy with a big grin on his face. He was well-respected.

"He wasn't one for the extravagance of life. He would get around in his old bloodstone boots, or a pair of crocs.

"He was a humble man that looked after his horses, they were better rugged and clothes than he was.

"He loved his horses and loved the people in all the different industries he's been in."

President of the Paradise Lagoon Campdraft Tom Acton said Mr Brekelmans had been part of the community for a long time.

"He was a very talented horseman and likeable bloke," Mr Acton said.

"He's helped a lot of people in the equine industry better their horsemanship skills, a lot of young people.

"He had plenty of peers."

Peter Gesler. Picture: Supplied
Peter Gesler. Picture: Supplied

Peter Gesler was killed in a plane crash on Saturday afternoon in South Australia along with his passenger, Rachel Whitford, 48.

The 59-year-old pilot from Greymare near Warwick in Queensland, was a well-known and highly respected horseman.

He co-owned a horse stud at Greymare, and also owned a stockfeed company at Laidley.

Mr Gesler was heavily involved in campdrafting.

Australian Campdraft Association vice president Sean Dillon said Mr Gesler's death had shocked the community.

"The whole campdrafting fraternity lends its heartfelt condolences to the family," Mr Dillon said.

"He contributed a lot to our sport and had a big impact on the breeding side of things.

"It's a horrifically tragic thing that's happened."

Australian Stock Horse Society director and campdraft commentator Lorna Fanning said Peter and his wife Debbie were popular around the campdraft scene.

"Peter could tell a good story," she said.

"He was very knowledgeable and respected in the horse industry and sport. Peter won campdrafts and recorded many placings."

Australian Campdrafting Association president Hugh Philp, of Clermont, said he first knew of Peter through his top sire Seligman Spin.

"He was on the ACA Council and you could tell he was a smart businessman who brought great ideas to the table. If he didn't get an idea through, he would be back to the next meeting with more ideas," Mr Philp said.

"Peter had a terrific attitude and was someone you wanted on your team. The campdrafting community is devastated by his passing."

- with GERARD WALSH, WARWICK DAILY NEWS