Durable and hardy

...and on the eighth day, God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

From the Land Down Under, two interesting breeds that are the epitome of tough and durable, the Waler and the Brumby.

Horses were imported by ship from South Africa to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788. The breeds of these original horses are not known.

Later on, horses from Europe were also brought in, including Arabians and Thoroughbreds.

The 9 month journey was very arduous for the horses on the ships, and when the equine arrived, they had to cope with a very harsh climate and environment. Poisonous snakes and other creatures abounded, and the horses had to travel very long distances in the bush. Only the most durable survived, thus making the start of adaptation in genetics for future bloodlines.

The first area for horse breeding was in New South Wales, on the continent’s east coast, and the horses were used to work on the huge sheep stations. That horse became known as the Waler.

The Waler was strong and hardy, and its endurance soon gained a reputation as an excellent mount. (1)

A superb cavalry animal, stud farms began to export the horse in large numbers to the Indian and British Armies stationed in India.

However, by the end of WWII, the number of Walers was so depleted that it almost went extinct.

The Waler comes from the stock of 1788 and is from Australia, coming in at 15HH to 16.2HH, and are considered a Warmblood. They are similar in appearance to Thoroughbreds, but the croup is a little goosey looking.

The colors are gray, black, brown, chestnut and bay, and they do best in temperate grasslands.

Their uses included jumping, dressage and trail riding, and they have a nice, willing and amiable attitude.

Walers have straight, Thoroughbred- like faces that are attractive, on long necks set on nice, sloping shoulders. Their chest is deep, with a long, strong back, but the tail set is a little low. They have straight legs and hard feet.

The Brumby Horse is not a native wild horse to Australia, rather, it descends from those first horses brought in during the late 1700's, so therefore, it is a mixture of a variety of breeds. (2)

Due to the many breeds mixing together, there are no standards of characteristics to this horse.

Horses escaped from the owners of sheep stations and went to live wild in the Australian bush.

They adapted very well to the severe climate, and wild, large herds of Brumbies roamed the land.

However, after some time, they began to harm the flowers and trees of the natural land scape, did damage to the fencing of farmers and sheep herds, over-grazed the grass lands and fouled fresh water supplies.

Seen as an obnoxious nuisance, the Brumbies were slaughtered in large numbers during the 1960's. This led to outrage by the public.

It still runs wild in some areas, and is no less attractive than the American Mustang.

This breed does not have much value as domesticated stock, is not very attractive, and apparently has a stubborn, cunning and obstinately disobedient nature. (3)

The breed is now kept in check by humane culling methods, so numbers are kept under control and the environment doesn’t suffer. This also helps to keep the general health of the herd in better standards.

The Brumby is descended from the original imported animals of the late 1700's, comes in at 14HH to 15HH, and is considered a Warmblood.

Brumbies come in all colors and do best in temperate grasslands, but they have no domestic uses and are wild or feral. As stated, their temperament is rebellious and stubborn.

The face is not unattractive, but it is stocky, on a short neck that ties-in low on to an upright shoulder.

The back is short, ending in a sloping croup with a recessed tail. The legs are strong and the feet are small and hard.

I don’t think I will be traveling to Australia anytime soon to go horse shopping, however, it is always interesting to learn the history of horse breeds that have been around a while.

Leaving you, as always, with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."

1,2,3: "A Pocket Guide to Horses and Ponies," by Corinne Clark