DESCENDANTS of two Light Horsemen who fought in the famous Battle of Beersheba 100 years ago will compete in a unique equestrian event in Wagga at the weekend.
The Beersheba Challenge will be part of an Aonach Australia festival that celebrates the gathering of Irish clans and involves the connemara breed of horses.
Organiser Zita Denholm said one of challenge entrants was Caitlin Bourchier, the great, great niece of Brigadier Sir Murray Bourchier, who led the 4th Light Horse Brigade’s charge to capture water wells from the Turks at Beersheba in Palestine on October 31, 1917.
It is remembered as the last cavalry charge in history, although the Light Horse was really mounted infantry.
Mrs Denholm said Stephanie Sayers, a Charles Sturt University student whose great, great grandfather was also in the charge, would also be among the 15 entrants in the challenge.
The Aonach festival will be held at CSU’s equine centre on Saturday, starting with a big parade at 9.30am, followed by the dressage event and then action class events from 1pm.
The Beersheba Challenge will be held at 6pm.
The challenge will involve riders jumping over six trenches then dismounting their horse and running over a certain distance while leading their horse and carrying a timber fence post.
At the end of the run, each rider will put down the timber post, collect a flag, remount their horse and ride to the finish while holding the flag in one hand.
The winner will be the rider who finishes the course in the fastest time.
The course has been designed by Madeline and Aaron Oldaker, of Wagga.
“This is the fifth year we have held the event,” Mrs Denholm said.
“Last year we had 18 horses and this year we have 36.
“We hold the festival on the Saturday closest to Saint Patrick’s Day.”
Mrs Denholm said the Beersheba Challenge would be held to mark the centenary of one of Australia’s greatest military victories.
“When I was young I met a man who rode in the charge and he told me the horses could smell the water in the wells.
“He told me the horses were so thirsty there was no way they could stop them.”
The trophy and flags for the challenge have been donated by the Wagga sub-branch of the RSL.
Sub-branch secretary, Ken May, said the organisation was delighted to support the event.
Mrs Denholm said the public was welcome to attend the day, and there was no admission charge.