Although horses aren’t native to the Australian continent, but were introduced during the pioneering days and heavily utilized to create civilization in this vast new world, the Australians were avid horse breeders, developing and importing nearly seventy distinct horse breeds.Although Australia is a fairly recent culture when it comes to breeding horses, there is still quite a bit of variety that you will find coming out of the Land Down Under.
The unique landscapes and characteristics of this continental nation has also led to Australian horse breeds that are unique and distinct in looks, temperament, and willingness. Almost all of the horse breeds of Australia are known for their toughness and adaptability.
Australia’s first horses arrived here in 1788. Irregular shipments followed that initial cargo. Because of the conditions the horses lived under, only the fittest survived. Some horses died during the voyages. When horse racing was recognized as a sport in 1810, good quality thoroughbreds were imported from England to Australia.
The Australlians also have a breed of wild horses called the Brumby. This breed of horse is free-roaming throughout all of Australia, often forming herds that are referred to as “mobs.” These horses are the descendants of escaped or lost horses that sometimes go all the way back to the initial European settlement.
The name Brumby for Australian feral horses is thought to have been derived from a James Brumby who arrived on the Britania in 1791. James Brumby, born in Scotton Lincolnshire, was a soldier with the New South Wales Corps, he was also a farrier and it is thought that he was responsible for some horses in the early Australian Colony.
When James moved to Tasmania in 1804 it is believed he left some horses in New South Wales. Locals asked who owned the horses, “they are Brumby’s” was the reply.
The Anzak, a hardy breed of war horse favoured by the Australian light horse regiments in World War I, is still being bred by a group of Australian horse lovers.
During WWI more than 130,000 Australian horses were sent overseas to support Australia’s war effort.
The horse that was most favoured was a mixed breed known as a waler, because many had been bred in New South Wales. Most of the horses that Australia exported for the war died during the war.
At the end of the war there were about 13,000 horses allotted to the Australian Light Horse Brigade and of them about 2,000 were put down for veterinary reasons and the rest were distributed to other British empire forces like the Egyptian police or the Indian cavalry.
Only one waler returned to Australia – the horse used by General William Bridges, who was killed at Gallipoli. The president of the Australian Light Horse Association, Phil Chalker, says Sandy the horse did not return to Australia until late in 1918.
Australian Horse Breeds
Australian Draught Horse
Australian Waler (extinct)
Brumby (feral horse)
Coffin Bay Pony
English Riding Pony
English Spotted Pony
Guy Fawkes River National Park Brumby
Namagdi National Park Brumby
Tennessee Walking Horse
Welsh Mountain Pony