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After reading your site I thought you may be interested to know that a ancestor of mine did raise these horses for the British Army. He was Thomas Graham Wilson from Burrundulla ( who eventually died from a horse fall).
His grand daughter was a successful writer, Ella McFadyen. She wrote Thunderbolt's Horse partly based on her grandfather who actually purchased one of the bushranger's horses. She also writes " I can just remember an old man, Whose hand shot Thunderbolt dead".
Kandos and Rylstone History P.12
Animals in the War
Presentation to Kandos High School Year 9 students by Ron Roberts in 2000
Interview with Ron Roberts - 24/8/2000
Waler Horses can be 15 to 16 hands high, which is the average height of the Waler
The Kandos region would have provided a number of Walers to the army, according to Ron, because he had knowledge of a lot being sent down from Glen Alice and Glen Davis, even for the Second World War.
Because I come from there and I know the history and what they were all talking about down there. And we used to breed them for farm work or whatever else we had to do with them, with the Walers, carriages, carts, ploughing, even in the little towns delivering the bread. Yes, some would have come from Kandos, certainly. I don't think there would have been part of NSW that Walers didn't come from at that time.
Author of Cobb & Co Heritage Trail Bathurst to Bourke, Diane Simmonds speaks:
I'd like to add to that too. The founders of Cobb & Co were some of the people who bred the original Walers in NSW. They were called coach horses at that time and they bred them from famous racing stock and crossed them with draught horses and then put in some Arab strain. They raised those horses to pull the Cobb & Co coaches. About 5 or 7 to a team. And many of those horses were broken in as the coach went along. They just added them to the side and the other horses taught the young colts what to do. So the history of the Waler horse goes back a fair way.
Walers were used originally in Australia where they were introduced. They were not a breed. You must remember that. They are not a breed. They are man made. I'd better explain that. They were crossed with other horses because their original horses were very small and the farmers in those days wanted a horse with toughness, and could travel a long way without too much water or tucker, and could pull a heavy load. That's when they started them off. They were actually crossed with thoroughbreds, the Dutch horse and the Spanish horse, then they crossed them again with the thoroughbred and then Arab. Then after that they crossed them with whatever they could get their hands on. But they mostly used them with the soldiers; the English soldiers favoured the Walers, because in those days they had the troopers. And they had to travel a long way from one farm to another, or wherever the settlement was. And that's what they used them for in the first place. They weren't known as Walers then of course, it was the 1800s when they were introduced. They were called Walers first during the First World War.
The troopers wouldn't have caught Ned Kelly ever, if they hadn't had their own fast stock of Waler horses. Because Ned Kelly always had the best. So that was another reason they needed them, for the bushrangers and to keep law and order.
Yes, well the troopers always had the first pick of the good horses off any farm.
Yes, and so did Ned Kelly - he stole them.
Another thing too, if anyone stole a horse, the penalty for stealing horses was death.
Yes, Ned helped himself. But the troopers used to more or less help themselves too.
They wouldn't buy them from you. They would just demand them. They'd just take your good horse off you and tell you they were taking it.
In the first war they were named as the Walers, and the reason they were called the Walers is because they were introduced in NSW.
Nearly 60,000 horsemen went to World War I, so that would have been 60,000 horses with them.
Ron is saying they were not a breed. But there's a group of people in NSW now who are trying to raise that "breed" again. And when I was on the Paralympic Ride, we were in Victoria, and there were two people there who were actually going out into the desert to try and rescue old Walers. Walers were left out there and eventually became brumbies, and then they bred themselves.
These people rescue these horses and bring them back and are trying to restore that ‘breed’ of horses. Because when they went over to WW1 they weren't allowed to bring them home because of the quarantine rules. There were so many of them it would have been an almost impossible task.
They were to be classified as A, B, C and D according to their condition and age, and all the C and D horses had to be shot. And before they were shot, their shoes, mains and tails were removed, because they were worth money, and when they were shot, they were skinned and their hides were tanned and used for leather. And you can imagine what their owners thought of that.
Many of their owners got permission to take their horses for a last ride and they shot their horses themselves, and came back and said, sorry, I had to shoot him because he put his leg in a hole and broke his leg.
It was a terrible end to the Light Horse Brigade that went over there. There's actually a Country and Western Song that came out talking about the single one that returned. And so it's a very emotional issue because the horses and the men became very close, because their lives relied on each other. They were mates. So it was very difficult for them.
Also, just for the Olympic Games, there was a shipment of horses came over that cost, with the special aeroplanes and the equipment that had to come, $11 million to ship them from overseas.
It would have been a lot harder in those days to ship them. They had to use ships.
Another point of interest with the Olympic Games is that those horses are coming in at a cost of $11 million for the Olympians, but the Paralympians are not allowed to bring their own horses with them because there's no money for them. So they have to just do their work on a horse that is given to them. And when they went over to Atlanta, to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, the people who organised it just went out and got nice safe little horses for poor disabled little people, not realising that they were riders first, and disabled second. And they needed quality horses to do their work. And so they are trying to make sure that that doesn't happen in Australia, but they still can't bring their own horses because there just isn't the money. So it is a very big case of discrimination but... I will just leave that with you.
Virtually no horses returned from the War, but I understand there was one out of the whole of them that came back to Australia
It probably only came back from New Guinea, because there are a lot of Walers still left in New Guinea. They use them for Polo horses and sport. And also in Africa there are still a lot of Walers. They are still, as they just kept on breeding them over there.
We still had Walers in Australia that never went to war. And in 1972, they reclassified the Walers that used to be out in Queensland, back of Bourke, and in all these big cattle stations, that was their station horse, they were still Walers. And in 1972 they reclassified them. The sub books opened and they reclassified the Australian Walers as Australian Stock Horses in 1972. And in that time, they have put a lot more thoroughbred into that Australian Stockhorse, which originated from the Australian Walers.
I got into trouble not so long ago, because a well known stock horse breeder, not so far from here, he gets very excited when you tell him that, and we had a great argument, so I just have to produce the truth, which I located, and it's a fact. That's when they reclassified the Walers as your famous Australian Stock Horse of today.
(Because there is already a difference of opinion on this, check this information with the Australian Stock Horse Organisation AND the Australian Waler Association. Never rely on just one opinion, fish around.)
I remember myself, when I was the same age as these boys and girls here. My dad was a very good stockman, and he used ride the old Stockhorse, the Waler. We had no car in those days. We went to town once a month in a horse and cart or a horse and sulky, and his horse was a Waler. At that time I think he had about 9 of them so he could use one a week and the others were turned out. We used to ride one to school. Three of us used to be on at the one time, and we used to ride 3 miles to school and 3 miles back home every day. We'd tie the horse up to the fence, and that's where the horse would stay until we came out. All we had to do was to make sure he had water. He had no feed; he was just left there. And he would be fed when he got home.
In this story here, Australia at War, The Light Horse by Ian Jones, Illustrated by Walter Stackpool, you can see a picture of the Australian Stock Horse galloping with the ghost of the Light Horse Waler beside him, saying yes, that is where they came from. But there is a great deal of argument. And people are now trying to legally get the Walers recognised and registered as a breed, rather than just as something that is made by man. I don't know if they will succeed but they're trying to do that.
Well, they will succeed. I'm a pony man. I have Australian Ponies and Welsh Ponies. Now the Australian Pony is not a breed, but they've done exactly the same thing as the Walers. They brought out the Welsh Pony, and crossed the Welsh Pony with a thoroughbred, they crossed the part thoroughbred/Welsh back with the Shetland pony, brought it back to the half breed again, and came up with our Australian Pony. A lot of people will say Australian Studbook Pony, he's not, he's just an Australian Pony. And I never realised that, and I've been into Australian Ponies for about 25 years, but I didn't know that until I went investigating and reading.
There are lots of groups of young people who are forming a band of a Light Horse Brigade just as a hobby. There was one group at Daylesford, Victoria.
Some of Australia’s famous race horses were foundation sires for the Waler. The original coach horses that Cobb & Co bred were sired by famous racehorses. They then became Walers.
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