Today's Waler Horses

By the end of WW11, due to mechanisation horses were no longer work horses in Australia except in the outback, in the cities they were ridden for pleasure, sporting and show horses, on the whole people wanted to have the new horses coming into the country, the more showy breeds. In the 1960's and 1970's, the new lines available from the Thoroughbred, Arabian, Quarter Horse, and the many American and European horse breeds now became popular and readily available. The Waler, the "plain" Australian bush horse or utility horse, once lauded as the finest cavalry horse in the world, were forgotten as having "had their day". Not so! 

Talara Aranda Guan Wei, Waler stallion (photo courtesy Redgum Walers)In 1971 there was an attempt to save the Waler by a group of horse lovers who came together in Tamworth and the Australian Stock Horse Society was formed. They began with many of the well known Sires and brood mares that had bred the Waler these were bred to the more modern breeds, developing a modern refined type of Australian horse which became known as the Australian Stock Horse.

In 1986 it happened there were two women in Tasmania who were keen to discover whether there were any descendants of Waler horses still in that State. By chance on the radio program they happened to hear a gentleman from the Northern Territory decrying the slaughter of horses running free on stations out from Alice Springs that were being shot in cold blood from helicopters. Some of these were on stations where army remounts had once been bred and the breeding stock had remained. These were the direct descendants of the famous Waler horses, the remnant herds that had been kept free and isolated from any of the modern breeds coming into the country since 1945. These horses were unique to the Waler heritage.

The two women contacted the NT gentleman and the connection was made. One of the women travelled to Alice Springs where she was met and introduced to people who could assist in the selection of horses from these herds and the Waler Horse Society was formed. By 1988, the new society was registered with Victorian Consumer Affairs; a Stud Book and Register formally started; strict guidelines to define the Waler as a breed founded under the rules and regulations of the "The Waler Horse Society of Australia Inc" (WHSA Inc). Its aim was to preserve and promote the Waler horse of Australia for future generations.

Waler GeldingMany other horses have since been located. Only horses and their progeny derived from the old bloodlines of isolated herds with no new bloodlines brought to Australia since 1945 and where only the best survived, can be registered with the Waler Horse Society of Australia as Walers. Since the Studbook was established horses and their generations of progeny have continued to breed true to type and have proven to retain the attributes most dear to the Waler horses of yesteryear: good conformation, good strong bone, frugality, intelligence, versatility, courage, giving of a good comfortable ride, and the most amazing temperament that gets on well with humans.

We cannot re-create the old blood, the environmental conditions or the harsh selection processes which produced the original Waler horses. We have, however, gathered descendants of these horses, today found amongst genetically isolated herds in outback areas and remote cattle stations where they have continued to be bred and managed. The preservation of these breeding lines has ensured a sound and proven foundation for the future of this breed.

So...What Is The Difference Between a Waler and a Brumby?

Basically, a Waler is a horse with documented, heritage/old bloodlines whose ancestors endured harsh conditions and were bred or sold for military use. So you know what an individual Waler's bloodlines are and what breeds went into it originally. It has no "new" breed influence.

It is believed the term "Brumby" may have been derived from the Aboriginal word "baroomby" meaning "wild", however others believe the term refers to the horses once owned by Sergeant James Brumby, who left them to run free on his property in New South Wales in the early 1800s. Today a Brumby refers to a type of horse with mixed breeding, some of which may be heritage and some of which may be new. A Brumby has unknown breeding. Failed racehorses (i.e. modern Thoroughbreds) released into the wild, or modern ex-station horses can be called brumbies.

This means that while a Waler may also be a Brumby, only a very small percentage of heritage brumbies will ever be identified as Walers. 

Rescued part Arab brumby mare and newborn foal.

Rescued part Arab brumby mare and newborn foal. Photo - Katherine Waddington

The Waler Horse Society of AustraliaFor more information on the Waler Horse please visit the Waler Horse Society of Australia Inc. website