Fair crack of the whip

By Country News

Stewart Bryant from Mansfield has kept the days of showmanship alive through his whip-cracking performances, grabbing the attention of people across Australia.

Mr Bryant tours the country to perform whip-cracking shows, recently visiting four states in one month.

Some show-goers become avid fans of Mr Bryant's work, while others don't take much notice, but he said the shows always provide an opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

“At the Seymour expo, I caught up with people I’ve known for the last 30 years, and you start to see their kids grow — it’s like a big family.”

Mr Bryant met many of these friends at competitions but has since shifted his focus to show performing.

“My whip-cracking career started at the age of eight through to about 15, then school commitments got in the way, and in the last three to six years I started putting shows together.

“Sometimes you get nervous but when you know your subject really well, the nerves are more about giving a good performance.”

Mr Bryant gathered tips from the best horsemen in Australia to train stock horses to perform tricks during his shows, such as to smile or return a hat.

“People love having an animal in it and to see the bond between us.”

Mr Bryant presents a poem he wrote, The Australian Stockwhip, at the end of his performances, to explain to the audience how and why the whips are made.

His creativity didn't stop there, as Mr Bryant also designed a children's whip after his son Ted took interest in whip-cracking at the young age of three.

“Other kids see me performing, and mum and dad don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a real leather whip.”

Mr Bryant's three children — Ted, 6, Jack, 10, and Bill, 11 — use the whip at home and Ted recently won the Pee Wee division at the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo.

“Like anything, the longer you do a particular skill set the better you get; it comes down to your passion for it,” Mr Bryant said.

“I was looking at how we taught Jack when he wanted to get better at it; if you learn the fundamentals and technique early, then you’ve got something to work with later.”