Shared passion triple triumph

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Being born triplets and raised on their family's cattle farm has kept Harriet, Nicholas and Annabel McLarty grounded in many ways.

The 22-year-olds contribute their friendly sibling association to their country upbringing by parents Leigh and Nicky, who operate the historical Blythewood farm, in Pinjarra.

While the McLartys were building their 1600-head cattle herd and a stable of seven campdraft horses, Blythewood was the perfect place for an active family and provided the triplets with plenty of adventure and excitement.

"They always kept us amused, laughing about things only they could only understand," Nicky said.

She said the triplets' elder sister, Claire, was a little overwhelmed by the trio at first but quickly became their confidant.

Apart from always having a brother or sister to share the fun times, the McLarty triplets developed a passion for the sport of campdrafting.

"Dad began drafting in 1996 and was keen to get us involved so we could spend quality time together," Harriet said.

Now with 15 years of campdrafting under their belts, the Blythewood triplets and sister Claire say they have enjoyed every minute of it.

The family has basically grown up with one of the fastest growing horse sporting events there is.

It involves drafting cattle on horseback and guiding a beast around an obstacle course while being judged for speed and accuracy.

The triplets' good sense of humour went well with a sport that produces some very unpredictable and almost comical moments.

"While Nicholas, who is oldest by a minute, showed the way, winning junior events, his sisters were never far behind, such was the competitive nature of our children," Leigh said.

"We were a little off-side with our brother then but now being of a mature age, it is exciting when one of us does well," Annabel, the middle triplet, said.

The trio have all had turns at enjoying fame in the sport and Annabel is still on a high after winning the recent and very prestigious 2012 Williams Campdraft open.

Nicholas' major win was at the 2007 Pannawonica, taking out the open event, but he is just as pleased to compete with his sisters at local WA drafts.

"The social side of the sport is almost as good as winning," the Mitchells Livestock Transport driver said.

"Campdrafting involves travelling to various grounds around the State and competitors set up temporary accommodation at the site.

"After a long day of competing in various events, the evenings are always a time to catch up with everyone.

Harriet, a Binningup desalination plant administrator, said campdrafting was one of the rare sports where the whole family could participate, which made for a community-minded group of people.

"As a sporting family, we always help each other out by discussing strategies that add to our performance," she said.

Harriet recalled when she won the 2010 Dardanup open and her father finished in second place.

"That was very special for me," she said. "We share many wonderful memories and there will be many more to come.

"It has kept us triplets together, maybe even closer than because we share the same birthday."

The McLartys also are involved with organising the annual Boar Swamp Campdraft which is held on their property.

This year the family's three-day draft takes place on April 20-22.

New this year will be the Hawkesbury River Saddle competitions which promise to lift the bar for competitors.

"We think it very special to be able to provide such a wonderful venue for all our campdraft associates," Annabel, a town planner, said.

"There is a fantastic group of people who support our family and help run and improve the event each year."

This year the triplets will be competing together in the open, alongside their father, while mother Nicky manages the logistics of running the draft.

"Best of luck to them all," Nicky said. "One thing is for sure though, they will be a force to be reckoned with, especially as they are now older, wiser, and possess the power of three."

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