By MICHELLE SLATER
A 15-year-old girl with a pedigree steeped in high country heritage captivated the hearts of an audience of thousands last month with a pair of stock whips.
Valencia Creek teen, Jules Reti, was one of the star attractions a Saturday night gala the Mane Event held as part of equestrian industry expo Equitana at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
Jules stepped into the spotlight and wowed the crowd with her gun whip-cracking skills, which so far have taken to her national and state title competitions.
“I was nervous walking out there but after my first few cracks I was okay,” she said.
Jules is keeping the art alive as the great granddaughter of the Arthur Guy whose family used to run Wonnangatta station, and built Guy’s hut on the Snowy plains in 1940.
She had been going to mountain cattlemen’s gatherings since she was a tot, where she saw big kids using a stock whip and decided to give it a crack with an old one lying around at home.
“I kept practising and I got good at it very quickly. My mum said if I got good with one in the other hand she would buy me a pair of whips, so I did a lot more practising,” she said.
The young gun said she had also been helping to drive cattle through the bush using stock whips to help guide her charges, with family friends.
Jules also helps around the dairy farm at home milking cows, jumping on the mower and training her polocrosse horses in between cracking her whips.
She can now perform some tricky high-level double-handed combinations including the Drovers Two-Step and the Tasmanian Twist.
“You have to remember the cracks in all directions, it’s fast and you crack the whips behind your back. You gotta know to crack to the right beat,” she said.
“Once you’ve got it, you can’t lose it. But you need a lot of strength in your arms, it could be a small hand movement or how you tilt the whip.”
Jules had been a member of the high country whip crackers club where she picked up some new tricks, but now does a lot of performing at local shows.
She said she got the Equitana gig after being spotted at a cattlemen’s gathering and went on to perform in front of her largest audience.
“This is like this old-fashioned thing they used to do, and I think it’s cool that there are still stockmen who push cattle with horses instead of motorbikes,” she said.
“It’s cool I’m helping keep this alive and telling a story.”