Two young Australian farm workers have taken the world by storm, claiming top prizes at the World Young Shepherds competition in France.

Ovinpiades Mondiales brings together competitors from 19 countries to take part in a series of challenges including shearing, foot trimming, ewe health assessment and electric fence building.

Gabbie Horton, 25, who works on a sheep property near Yass in New South Wales, was named the top female in the competition and finished in second place overall.

“It’s amazing to be recognised for something that you do on a daily basis, and to go overseas and be recognised for it was pretty incredible experience,” she said.

Shearing was one of the tasks set in the competition.(Supplied: Peter Westblade Scholarship)

What’s known as a stockman or stockwoman in Australia is often referred to as a shepherd in other countries.

“The common ground was that we’re all working in the same industry across the world,” Ms Horton said. 

“We might all speak different languages, but we’re all focused on the one thing.”

Jack Grundy, 21, from Naracoorte in South Australia, came in fourth place.

He said a highlight was meeting people working in the industry across vastly different landscapes.

“You’re always learning through conversations with people not just in France but from all over Africa, in the UK — it just brings a whole new perspective on how things are carried out,” he said.

Tour an ‘eye-opener’ 

The pair was selected by WoolProducers Australia from applications by graduates from the Peter Westblade Scholarship and Hay Inc training programs.

Jack Grundy, Gabbie Horton and Joe Walden celebrate their success at the World Young Shepherd Competition.(Supplied: Peter Westblade Scholarship)

Peter Westblade Scholarship chairman Joe Walden, who accompanied the team, said sheep were raised in barns at most of the farms they visited.

“They also have a very high predation risk in the south of France from wolves,” Mr Walden said.

“It was a real eye-opener to see how they do things but it’s very different to how we farm in Australia.

“We saw so much of France and they were just so passionate about their history, their culture and their sheep.”

Ms Horton said the experience highlighted how operations could vary between countries.

“It was interesting for the Australians because we work with the largest numbers of sheep on a very commercial scale,” she said.

“All the other English-speaking teams [from England and Scotland] were working in small operations and they’ve had subsidies over the years, which made for some very interesting conversations.”

Ovinpiades Mondiales involved competitors from 19 different countries.(Supplied: Facebook)

There was also the opportunity to share some Aussie culture, in the form of the iconic Nutbush dance.

“We had the Spanish, African, French, all the European teams, we had nearly 100 people doing the Nutbush in southern France, it was so good,” she said.

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