AUSTRALIAN STOCK HORSE OR WALER
Breed Organization Information
About the Breed
The Australian Stock Horse evolved through selective breeding in response to the demands of the environment.The history of the breed began with the arrival of the First Fleet which, brought the first horses to Australia in 1788. These were of English Thoroughbred and Spanish stock. Later importations included more Thoroughbreds, Arabs and Timor and Welsh Mountain ponies. All horses sent to the colony needed strength and stamina - not only to survive the long sea journey (which took between nine and twelve months), but also to work in the foreign, untamed environment that had become their home.
After the crossing of the Blue Mountains as settlers ventured inland, strong and reliable horses became a necessity. Explorers, stockmen, settlers, bushrangers and troopers all relied on horses that could travel long distances, day after day. Weak horses were culled but the stronger types were used to breed sturdy saddle horses which were essential for the colony's development. Despite the mixed origins of these horses, they developed into a strong and handsome type that was eventually called the Waler after the colony of New South Wales.
J. C. Byrne in his Twelve Year Wandering the British Colonies (1848) wrote,
"... the race of horse at present in use in Australia is not to be surpassed in the world for symmetry and endurance. It is hard to say exactly how they are bred for there have been large importations of mares from Chile and Peru, stallions of the pure Arab breed from India, also from England and the Cape of Good Hope. Much pains have been bestowed on the breeding of these animals and the results have rightly rewarded the exertion."
Exploits of the explorers and stockmen and their reliable horses in the Australian bush became folklore, and stories such as The Man from Snowy River and Clancy of the Overflow depict the character of these pioneers and their horses.
The hardiness of the Waler made him a natural mount for the cavalry and when the British found themselves under-mounted at the time of the Indian Mutiny, the Waler came to the rescue. The earliest shipment to India was in 1857 when 29 horses were sent from Sydney to Calcutta. They proved superior to the local breeds and the remount officers were quickly commissioned to buy more. They initially chose 250 - a small number compared with later purchases - during 1958, 2500 were sent to India. In the Boer War, the Waler was exported in even greater numbers and from 1899 to 1902 nearly 16,000 horses served in such regiments as the Lancers, Commonwealth Horse, Mounted Rifles and Bushmens Troop.
Later in the Middle East during the First World War, the British generals called again for Australian Light Horse regiments and their stock horse remounts. About 160,000 Australian horses served in World War I with generals and cavalryman from 20 nations, from both sides, accepting that these horses were more reliable than other breeds. The English cavalryman, Lt. Col. R. M. P. Preston, D. S. O., in his book, The Desert Mounted Corps, described the stamina and spirit of the Australian Light Horse,
"...Cavalry Division had covered nearly 170 miles...and their horses had been watered on an average of once in every 36 hours... The heat, too, had been intense and the short rations, 91 1/2 lb. of grain per day without bulk food, had weakened them considerably. Indeed, the hardship endured by some horses was almost incredible. One of the batteries of the Australian Mounted Division had only been able to water its horses three times in the last nine days - the actual intervals being 68, 72 and 76 hours respectively, yet this battery on its arrival had lost only eight horses from exhaustion... The majority of horses in the Corps were Walers and there is no doubt that these hardy Australian horses make the finest cavalry mounts in the world..."
Although many good breeding stock left Australia never to return, the huge shipments did not seem to affect the horse population at home. In 1906 Australia had 1,765,186 horses and in 1918 when the human census was 5,030,479 there were 2,527,149 horses.
Breed Characteristics: Stock Horse Type
Head: Alert, intelligent head - broad forehead full eye-wide nostril
Neck: Good length of rein - well set into shoulders
Shoulders: Sloping shoulder - well defined wither slightly higher than croup
Chest: Deep - not to wide in proportion
Ribs: Well-sprung ribs and strong back of medium length in proportion
Legs: Forearms well-developed - cannon bone slightly flat - pasterns not to long and slightly sloping.
Quarters: Strong powerful quarters - well-muscled and nicely rounded. Wide and deep in thigh and gaskin. Clean flat bone and clean joints - not meaty and soft. Hind legs well under when standing. Hoofs hard and straight. The whole to be in balance according to size of the horse
The Versatile Breed
The basic pre-requisites of a high performance horse are a quiet temperament, intelligence and athletic ability. These qualities are essential for a brilliant performance whatever the event.
With its versatility, the Australian Stock Horse has achieved outstanding success in a wide variety of sports including campdrafting, show jumping, dressage, eventing, pony club events, polo and polocrosse.
CAMPDRAFTING, a truly Australian sport, requires agility, intelligence and strength of both horse and rider. The horse must also have speed and 'cattle sense' which is required when the competitor selects a beast from the 'camp' or yard and separates it from the remaining cattle. After 'cutting-out' the beast, the rider has to work it with his horse around an outside course.
DRESSAGE is the most elegant of equine sports. A dressage horse must have intelligence, suppleness, obedience and smoothness of movement to produce a flowing and disciplined performance.
POLO and POLOCROSSE require fast, strong horses with stamina and a 'love of the game.' Called ponies in both games, these horses must demonstrate intelligence, agility and control at speed.
SHOW JUMPING and EVENTING horses are indeed athletes and need to be obedient, intelligent and bold with obvious strength and soundness.
PONY CLUB horses need a quiet temperament, and the ability to perform capably in a variety of events. They need intelligence, athletic ability and the ability to adapt to their rider's standard of horsemanship.
The successful performance of the Australian Stock Horse has not only been recognized throughout Australia, but exports to England, America and Asia have given them world-wide recognition.
Bobbie Bruce was foaled in 1934 by Moorefield (Thoroughbred) out of Cadger by Sylvander. He has had a marked impact on the Australian Stock Horse type, particularly as a number of horses carrying the Bobbie Bruce bloodlines were crossed with those carrying Saladin, Radium, Panzer and Chan blood.
Bobbie Bruce was not traveled or shown widely, but was successful in eight campdrafts from ten starts, winning six and was unbeaten in flag racing events. The first progeny of Bobbie Bruce was born in 1937 and his last foals in 1963. In the late 1940s, Bobbie Bruce stood for a service fee of three pounds and throughout his life he served in excess of 1,000 mares. Horses carrying the Bobbie Bruce blood have inherited the ability, confirmation and temperament to compete successfully in any field.
Bobbie Bruce founded a good line of horses, many of whom will be present for many years to come. It has been said by many that Bobbie Bruce has had the biggest influence on Australian Stock Horses.
Buisson Ardent was an American bred Thoroughbred by Relic and out of Rose O Lynn. Buisson Ardent had an impact on the Thoroughbred racing world through breeding. Many horses carrying the Buisson Ardent blood have recorded many well-performed wins.
His influence on the Australian Stock Horse Society has been recorded in a similar way. Many outstanding horses can be traced through his sons, Bush Fire, Biarritz, Speed of Sound and Touchdown. As further generations of this horse are traced, the influence and the number of quality performers continue to escalate.
Born in 1885, Carbine first raced at Christchurch as a two-year-old in 1887. With that race his owner new he had something special. Carbine won nine of thirteen races that season. He reached his peak as a five-year-old with ten wins from eleven starts. His greatest achievement was a Melbourne Cup win in 1890 with 10 stone, 5 pounds in 3 minutes and 28 1/4 seconds, a record time and weight from a field of thirty-nine. His overall race record was 43 starts for 33 wins, six seconds, three thirds and only one unplaced race.
In 1891 after suffering a ligament injury he was sent to stud, standing for an unheard of 200 guineas. Horses carrying Carbine's bloodline and well-documented in Australian Stock Horse pedigrees include The Buzzard, Spearfelt, Royal Commission, Bois Boussel and Silvius. The name Carbine will be recalled in the horse world for many years to come.
Cecil was bred in 1889 at Glenayre, Glenrock, New South ausceclz.jpg (14237 bytes)Wales by Mr. W. H. Simpson and his brother Mr. A. T. Simpson. With Arch Simpson in the saddle, Cecil won many competitions at bushmen's carnivals. He was rarely beaten in a campdraft and showed his superior ability in novelty events. It is said that he could be galloped into a pair of dray shafts and turn within them.
Cecil became so successful that, in 1913, he was barred from the Geary's Flat Bushman's Carnival. All the best horsemen from many miles around came to compete, but none had a horse to beat Cecil, so Arch Simpson was asked to leave his equine wonder at home.
Some of Cecil's stud career was spent at Cooplacurripa Station, which was also the earlier home of Saladin, another influential stock horse sire. Cecil died at Avonlea, on the Barrington Tops, the property of a third brother, Mr. G. D. Simpson.
Chan had a wonderful temperament and was an excellent horse to ride, as are most of his progeny. Throughout his twenty-six years, Chan produced a number of outstanding progeny, many descendants are registered Australian Stock Horses.
Chan was foaled in 1945 and developed into a handsome horse, standing just under 15 hands with two white socks almost to the hocks, half moons of white outside of both fore coronets and a star on his forehead. Chan possessed an exceptional ability to pick up his feet and move backwards, as fast as he could walk forward making him superb at campdrafts.
Chan was put down in 1971 but his influence on the breeding of many horses and his name appears in the pedigrees of many registered Australian Stock Horses.
In the history of the Australian Stock Horse Society, Queensland has produced a number of noted sires. One of the most famous sires to come from Queensland was the brown stallion, Commandant. It was as a sire of Stock Horses and particularly campdrafters, that the name Commandant has become a by-word in Queensland. Practically all of his progeny have shown particular ability as Stock Horses and many of them have become outstanding camp horses.
Cyllene carried an impressive racing record, as did his progeny. In England, he was the leading sire of racehorses in 1909 and 1910. In 1913, he headed the list in Argentina. His racing record indicates nine wins and two places in eleven starts.
The influence of Cyllene with the Australian Stock Horse Society can be traced mainly through his sons Polymelus who produced such horses as Silvern and Phalaris. Cyllene live until the great age of 30 years.
Dimray was foaled in 1938. He became a brilliant campdrafter, ausdimz.jpg (14938 bytes)and in 1948 was chosen to represent the Hunter Valley area at the Sydney Royal Show. On Dimray, his rider earned 93 points, which stood as the highest score at the Sydney show for a number of years. He proved himself to be one of the best campdrafters in the area, at one time winning five consecutive events. When retired to stud, he carried on the Radium tradition of producing top working horses and campdrafters.
It was as a sire that Dimray had a tremendous influence on the Australian Stock Horse Society. Evidence of this is already in the Hall of Fame with his son Reality, his grandson Rivoli Ray and his great grandson, Cecil Bruce being admitted. Dimray has founded an exceptional line of working horses, and outstanding sires who will continue the Dimray line of horses in the future.
Gainsborough was an impressive Thoroughbred who achieved a number of outstanding wins. Throughout his career as a racehorse, he recorded five wins and two placings from nine starts. As a sire of racehorses his achievements were higher. In 1931, he was the leading sire of Juveniles and Broodmares, in 1931 and 1933, leading sire of racehorses.
Being a good type and standing 15.3 hands high, Gainsborough was a suitable foundation sire for Australian Stock Horses. His influence can be traced through his sons Hyperion, Solario, Emborough and Bobsleigh.
Mr. J. H. Doyle bred Gibbergunyah in 1922 at Warrandeen Station near Talwood, Queensland. He was bought by Mr. Finley and Sons of Thornthwaithe, Scone when a two year old and broken to be used as a stock horse. His performance was excellent, so he was used for breeding when five. He was used as a sire at Thornthwaite from 1927-1945 but had very few outside mares. One of his progeny, Vivid won 23 open campdrafts for Jack Palmer.
Gibbergunyah stock became widely sought after as stock horses and polo ponies. In 1938, the Ashton brothers took some of his progeny to England and in 1939 there were 18 Gibbergunyah horses playing polo in the Dudley Cup. Gibbergunyah rates along side Panzer as being one of the greatest polo sires ever seen in Australia.
Gibbergunyah left quite a few colts, but one, which regularly appears in Australian Stock Horse breeding, is Arragundy, his last foal. Arragundy was foaled in 1946 and died in 1973.
Moorefield, a brown stallion was foaled in 1889 and a racehorse won the AJC Villiers Stakes. It is through his son Bruce and his progeny, that Moorefield is noted by the Australian Stock Horse Society. Bruce produced many colts who have bred on, including My Bruce. His best-known son, however, was Bobbie Bruce.
Pantheon was a bay horse foaled in England in 1921 and imported to Australia. He raced with great success as a stayer and at weight for age. He started 9/4 favorite in the 1926 Melbourne Cup and finished third behind Spearflet.
He achieved fame as a sire through the deeds of many of his progeny such as Hyperion, Pandion, Maikai, Avenger, Feminist and Pantler, but his most famous son was Peter Pan. Peter Pan won the Melbourne Cup in 1932 and again in 1934. In the stock horse field Pantheon is best known through the deeds of Panthom and Pantler. Panthom is best known as the sire of Panzer.
The greatest son of Cecil was foaled in 1918. As he matured, he began to show his exceptional ability as a stock horse. In addition to dominating campdrafting, Radium wasausradz.jpg (11779 bytes) also highly successful in led classes for the best type of Stock Horse. During the Second World War at a Dungog Bushman's Carnival over twenty horses were competing in the led Stock Horse class. The judge selected five of these for the final judging; Radium receiving the first place with the remaining four all being his sons. Just prior to the war, Radium won a Championship Draft at Kempsey on the north coast of New South Wales. Each time the story is told, a larger number of his progeny fill all the placings behind him. It is known though, that Radium's sons and daughters gained the next ten placings.
At age 29, Radium died in 1947 of a genital malignancy. This was the end of the life of a great horse, but only the foundation of a great line of horses, which rather than waning, is becoming even stronger.
Rivoli was foaled in 1919. He was a good racehorse, winning weight for age races in Sydney and Melbourne and winning the 1922 AJC Derby and coming second in the 1923 Melbourne Cup. He sired three Queensland Cup winners, Lominga (1936), Earl Rivoli (1940) and Phylex (1951). Rivoli was 26 years old when he sired Phylex.
Rivoli appears in many Australian Stock Horse stallion pedigrees and the Rivoli line is being keenly sought after. Rivoli Ray (205) is the main horse to have brought the name Rivoli to notice. His performance in led events and success in ridden competitions has been well documented.
Longevity seems to be characteristic of Saladin stock. There have been a number of mares of Saladin blood recorded as living well into their thirties and still producing foals when thirty or more. It is not recorded exactly when Saladin was foaled or died, but it is thought that he was foaled before 1875 and died about 1900 or soon after.
Cecil and his line owe quite a lot to Saladin and his descendants, as many mares of Saladin descent have been put to Cecil's sons and grandsons. Although Saladin lived and came to prominence over 100 years ago, his influence can still be seen in present day horses carrying his blood.
After the First World War, despite the recognition Australian horses had won and although the Waler was known as a distinctive type, there was no stud book or registry. Mechanization of primary industries reduced the need for working horses and it was not until the 1960s that an interest in horses was revived. This revival sprang from the increasing leisure time available to society.
At the 1971 Sydney Royal Show, Mr. Alex Braid of Wellington, New South Wales and Mr. Bert Griffith of Scone gathered a group of enthusiasts together to discuss the formation of a society. In June, 1971, about 100 people met at Tamworth to launch the Australian Stock Horse Society, which at last gave this breed the recognition and formal organization it deserved.
The Society quickly spread and branches were soon formed in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The movement reached Victoria in 1973 and later Western Australia and Tasmania. By 1979 membership had increased from the initial hundred to 12,000 and the society's classifiers had accepted more than 40,000 horses for registration. The Stud Book was close on August 1, 1988, and horses previously registered were upgraded to Stud Book. Since the closure of the Society's Stud Book, only horses that comply with the Society's regulations have been accepted for registration.
The object of the Australian Stock Horse Society Limited is to preserve the identity and breeding records of the Stock Horse through registration, and to promote their attributes through exhibitions and performance. Today, the Society has 66 branches throughout Australia, with the Head Office at Scone, New South Wales. Scone is appropriate for the Stock Horse headquarters as it not only is in the heart of one of Australia's top horse breeding areas, but is in an area where many notable Stock Horse bloodlines originate.