BONUS ARTICLE- Feb/March 2016
In the last of our breed features we honour the flagship breed of this great country, the Australian Stock Horse.
Born from humble and harsh origins the Australian Stock Horse has emerged as a breed well respected
around the world. Known for its hardiness, courage and sensibility the modern day breed guidelines suggest the Stock Horse should be between 14-16 hands, with a wide forehead, clean gullet, goodlength of rein, sloping shoulder, muscled hindquarters, hindlegs set well under them and hard feet.
RIGHT: An artists impression of the Standard of Excellence for the modern Australian Stock Horse
While the first horses in Australia were in New South Wales, hence the name Waler, the horses travelled with the explorers and settlers wherever they roamed. Many traditional breeds were imported in the very early years, including Arabian, Shire, Timor Pony, Welsh and, of course, Thoroughbred.
Survival of the fittest
With few fences the horses roamed far and wide, often escaping into the vast bushlands, where herds of hardy cross breeds began to grow, with only the strong surviving by adapting to the harsh Australian
Right: Radium, son of Cecil, was one of the original foundation
sires of the modern breed.
WWI and the Boer War saw many thousands of horses exported with the Light Horse Regiments and as re-mounts for the British Army. These tended to be the bigger, heavier types as they had to carry the rider,and all his equipment and became known worldwide as
Walers at that time.
Those horses that were left at home were, for the most part, smaller and lighter, going on to become the basis for what is now known as the Stock Horse. Walers and Stock Horses are separate breeds these days, showing the differences in their types .As pastoralisation of the country spread, with sheep and cattle predominant, the horses were used in every day work with the stock, as well as for general transport.
A modern day breed
It was not until 1971 that the Australian Stock Horse Registry was formed in Tamworth, with 100 members, where the early registrations were mostly of horses that excelled in stock work. According to Wikepedia ‘Fourteen specific foundation sires are responsible for most of the bloodlines accepted into the Society Australia-wide and most well-bred Australian Stock Horses trace to one of these foundation sires. These included horses bred from colonial stock: Saladin, Cecil and his son Radium, Medlow and Bobbie Bruce. The others were Thoroughbreds: Rivoli, Commandant, Panzer, Midstream, Young Valais,Gibbergunyah, Bushfire, Silvius and Deo Juvante also exerted considerable influence. Since then Rivoli Ray, Blue Moon Mystic, Eliotts Creek Cadet, Warrenbri Romeo and some American Quarter Horses have also had a large influence on the breed.’
ABOVE RIGHT: Campdrafting, where a cool, agile horse is needed.
The worldwide success of the movie, The Man from Snowy River in 1982, put the spotlight directly on the Stock Horse, and even though the feats were somewhat grandiose, the overall concept of the tough Australian horses were firmly embedded in the minds of the world’s equestrian community.
Erica Taylor and Crown Law, (LEFT TOP) a registered Stock Horse, also focused the world’s eye on the breed by representing Australia at the World Dressage Champs in Canada in 1986 and then again at the Olympics at Seol in 1988. The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney further enhanced the popularity of this breed in the world’s eyes. The spectacular opening ceremony featuring 120 Stock Horses with stock saddles and riders with the classic Drizabone coats wowed the world.
The mighty eventing silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at Hong Kong, Ringwould Jaguar - with Sonja Johnson on board (CENTRE LEFT) , was also a registered Stock Horse and fairly epitomised the breed, both in build and temperament with his hardiness and amenability.
However, the Stock Horse truly excels in what is Australia’s largest equestriansport, Campdrafting. It is, after all, what they have been bred for. One of the greatest compliments an Aussie can give a horse is to say “It’s tough, it must have a bit of Stock Horse in it’s breeding somewhere.”