THE horseball season has come to a close, but not before an action-packed weekend of competition at Armidale for the Australian Horseball Association National Championships.
The carnival, held at the Armidale Exhibition Centre on Saturday and Sunday, included six teams from the New England and North West.
It followed a very busy year for the association, which included sending two teams - junior and senior - to Portugal for the Horseball World Cup in August.
The A grade competition was won by Tamworth team Schwager Contracting, with Goonoo Gonnoo the runners-up.
Young Farm and Co, also from Tamworth, won the B grade competition from Dunn's Recovery.
Newcomer Adam Petherbridge put in strong performances all weekend to be the best male player, and the best female was Melanie Young, Limbri, who has been a rising star in the sport for the past few years.
Long player Sarah Rushbrook, Kootingal, received the most improved award and Adam Petherbridge, Mt Vincent, was the players' player.
One of the sport's most experienced players, Tamworth's Ben Collett, was the best male player for 2016, and junior Melanie Young, one of six horseballers to represent Australia in Portugal, was the best female player for the year.
Adam Petherbridge received the award for 2016 players' player.
The Australian Stock Horse (ASH) award for best performance by an ASH went to Optimum Drover, ridden by Adam Petherbridge and owned by Chris and Rachel Young.
Association president Chris Young said the weekend was a great display of horseball talent, thanks to hard work done by the Australian representative teams and others willing to learn.
"We were very fortunate to have so many people go overseas and learn from the best," Mr Young said.
"They've brought all their new skills and playing techniques back to other association members and we've seen a real improvement in all players at the past two events."
The addition of visiting Portuguese trainer Francisco Campeao, an International Federation of Horseball expert horseball coach trainer and technical trainer, helped members improve their riding skills.
"Francisco has been a full-time equestrian teacher for more than 20 years and held individual coaching sessions while he was here, as well as a two-day training weekend for horseball members, and he was more than happy to share his knowledge to help us improve our sport," Mr Young said.