Campdraft community mourns the loss of respected horseman
CENTRAL Queensland's campdrafting and horse sports community is mourning the loss of good friend Peter Gesler, who was one of two people killed in a light plane crash in South Australia on Saturday.
Mr Gesler, 59, was piloting his Brumby 610 aircraft when it crashed in scrubland near the Leigh Creek Airport, about 540km north of Adelaide, about 6.30pm.
A 48-year-old woman from Wynnum who was a passenger on board, was also killed.
Mr Gesler, from Greymare near Warwick in southern Queensland, co-owned a horse stud there and also owned a stockfeed company at Laidley.
News of his passing was felt in Rockhampton where Mr Gesler and his wife Debbie were regular visitors to the annual Paradise Lagoons Campdraft.
Rockhampton horse trainer Zoe Hohn, who first met Mr Gesler at the east Goondiwindi dip yards in 2004, described him as a mentor.
"Peter was a man I respected and looked to for advice on improving my horsemanship," she said yesterday.
"He will be sadly missed by many around the campdraft and cutting arenas and my thoughts are with Deb and his family.
"Many times we would sit around the camp fire, just talking.
"I would carefully sit and listen to his gentle voice for hours while he helped me build what he would call 'a foundation'.
"His hands were as gentle as his voice, and his shoulder was always strong when you felt like giving up.
"When I shut my eyes I can still hear him saying 'Chin up chicken, you got this, cowgirl, up and kick arse'."
Rockhampton apprentice jockey and campdrafting enthusiast Alisha Donald said Mr Gesler always loved watching the younger generation come through the ranks.
"Peter was a great person who was always up for a chat and a laugh," she said.
"There was never a dull moment in the Gesler camp at a campdraft.
"I've been drafting my whole life basically and Peter was always happy to lend a hand when needed and give advice when asked.
"Whether I was warming up or sitting on a horse next to him, I always used to pick his brains on his thoughts.
"He will be sadly missed."
Paradise Lagoons Committee vice-president Evan Acton said Peter and Debbie Gesler were valued sponsors and well-liked members of the campdraft community.
"Peter rode quite a bit here over the years," Mr Acton said.
"He bred a lot of horses and sold them at Dalby and Tamworth stock horse sales.
"He was a friendly, outgoing sort of a fellow who was always willing to help in any way possible with our campdraft."
Crash investigators and police attended the crash site over the weekend and a report will be prepared for the state coroner.