Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Allison Price
About the Breed
The Australian Stock Horse was born through selective breeding to meet the needs of the environment. These horses were of Spanish and English Thoroughbred stock. Later importations added more Thoroughbreds as well as Arabs, Timor, and Timor. All horses that were sent to the colony required strength and stamina to be able to endure the lengthy sea journey, which took nine to twelve months. They also had to be able to work in an unfamiliar environment.
Strong and reliable horses were a necessity after the Blue Mountains crossing. Horses that could travel long distances and day after day were essential for explorers, stockmen as well as settlers, troopers, bushrangers, and troopers. The colony developed by breeding sturdy saddle horses from the stronger horses. Weak horses were killed and euthanized. These horses were born from mixed bloodlines, but they grew into strong and handsome horses that were eventually named the Waler after New South Wales.
J. C. Byrne wrote in Twelve Year Wandering the British Colonies (1848).
The Australian horse race is renowned for its symmetry and endurance. It is difficult to know how they were bred as mares have been imported from Peru and Chile, and stallions of pure Arab breeds from India and England. These animals have received a lot of attention and have been well-received.
The exploits of the stockmen and explorers in the Australian bush became legend. Stories such as Clancy of the Overflow and The Man from Snowy River depict the personalities of these pioneers.
The Waler’s toughness made him an ideal mount for cavalry. When the British were under-mounted during the Indian Mutiny the Waler stepped in to save them. In 1857, 29 horses were shipped from Sydney to Calcutta. This was the first shipment to India. They were superior to local breeds, and the remount officers were soon commissioned to purchase more. In 1958, 2500 horses were sent to India from the 250 they initially purchased. The Waler was also exported more often during the Boer War. From 1899 to 1902, nearly 16,000 horses were part of regiments such as the Lancers and Commonwealth Horse Mounted Rifles, and Bushmens Troop.
The British generals again called for Australian Light Horse regiments during the First World War in the Middle East. Around 160,000 Australian horses served in World War I alongside generals and cavalrymen from 20 countries, on both sides. They accepted that these horses were more reliable then other breeds. The endurance and spirit of the Australian Light Horse was described by Lt. Col. R. M. P. Preston (D. S. O.), an English cavalryman.
“…Cavalry Division had traveled nearly 170 miles… and their horses were hydrated on average once every 36 hours… Heat was intense, and their rations of 91 1/2 lb. had been very limited. They were also severely weakened by the lack of bulk food and grain they received each day. Some horses were subject to extreme hardship. One battery of the Australian Mounted Division was unable to water its horses for three days in the past nine days. The actual intervals were 68, 72, and 76 hours respectively. Yet, the battery had lost eight horses due to exhaustion upon its arrival. Most of the horses in the Corps were Walers, and it is clear that the hardy Australian horses are the best cavalry mounts in all of the world …”.
Although many Australian breeding stock were never returned, it did not appear that the large shipments had any effect on the domestic horse population. Australia had 1,765,186 horses in 1906, and 2,527,149 horses in 1918, when the human population was 5,030.479
Breed Characteristics: Type Stock Horse Type
Head: Intelligent, alert head with a broad forehead and wide nostrils.
Neck: Well set shoulders and good length of rein
Shoulders: Well defined shoulder wither slightly higher than the croup
Chest: Not too deep, but not too wide.
Ribs: Strong back and well-sprung ribs of medium length.
Legs: Forearms are well-developed, cannon bone slightly flat and pasterns not too long and slightly sloping.
Quarters: Strong, powerful quarters that are well-muscled, and beautifully rounded. Deep and wide in the thighs and gaskin. Clear, flat bones and well-maintained joints. Standing, keep your hind legs under your feet. Hoofs should be straight and hard. The horse’s size will determine the balance of the whole.
The Versatile Breed These traits are crucial for brilliant performances in any event.
The Australian Stock Horse’s versatility has allowed it to excel in many sports, including dressage, eventing and pony club events.
CAMPDRAFTING is a true Australian sport that requires both horse and rider to be agile, intelligent, and strong. Speed and ‘cattle sense” are also required for the competition, which involves selecting a beast from a ‘camp’ or yard and seperating it from the rest of the cattle. The rider must then work the beast with his horse on an outside course.
Dressage is one of the most graceful equine sports. Dressage horses must be intelligent, flexible, willing to obey, and smooth in their movements to achieve a disciplined and flowing performance.
POLOCROSSE and POLOLOCROSSE are fast horses that have stamina, love of the game and can be strong and powerful. These horses are called ponies in both games and must show intelligence, agility, control and speed.
SHOW JUMPING and EVENTING horses can be considered athletes. They must be intelligent, obedient, bold and strong with apparent strength and soundness.
PONY CLUB horses require a calm temperament and the ability to perform well in a variety events. They require intelligence, athletic ability, and the ability adapt to their rider’s standards of horsemanship.
The Australian Stock Horse’s success has been widely recognized in Australia. They have also received international recognition through their exports to America, England, and Asia.
Moorefield (Thoroughbred), out of Cadger and Sylvander, was the foaler for Bobbie Bruce in 1934. His impact was significant on the Australian Stock Horse breed, especially as many horses with the Bobbie Bruce bloodlines were crossed with horses that had Saladin, Radium and Panzer bloodlines.
Bobbie Bruce wasn’t traveled much and wasn’t shown often, but he was successful in eight campdrafts starting at ten starts, winning six, and was unbeaten during flag racing events. Bobbie Bruce’s first foal was born in 1937, and his last in 1963. Bobbie Bruce was paid a three-pound service fee in the late 1940s. He served more than 1,000 mares throughout his entire life. Bobbie Bruce bloodline horses have the temperament, confirmation, and ability to win in any field.
Bobbie Bruce established a solid line of horses that will continue to be around for many years. Many believe Bobbie Bruce is the one who has had the greatest influence on Australian Stock Horses.
Buisson Ardent, an American Thoroughbred Thoroughbred Thoroughbred was bred by Relic out of Rose O Lynn. Through breeding, Buisson Ardent made a significant impact on the Thoroughbred racing industry. Numerous horses that have been bred with Buisson Ardent blood have won many races.
Similar records show his influence on the Australian Stock Horse Society. His sons, Bush Fire and Speed of Sound, as well as Touchdown, can be traced to many outstanding horses. The influence of this horse continues to grow as more generations are retraced.
Carbine was born in 1885 and raced his first race at Christchurch in 1887 as a two year-old. His owner knew he was special when he won that race. Carbine won nine out of thirteen races that year. As a five year old, he had ten wins in eleven starts. He won the Melbourne Cup in 1890, with 10 stone and 5 pounds, in 3 minutes 28 1/4 seconds. This was a record time and weight in a field that included thirty-nine. His race record total was 43 wins in 33 races, with six seconds each, three thirds, and one unplaced.
After sustaining a ligament injury, he was sent to Stud in 1891. He stood for an unusual 200 guineas. Carbine’s bloodline is well-documented in Australian Stock Horse pedigrees. These horses include The Buzzard and Spearfelt as well as Bois Boussel, Silvius, Bois Boussel, and Royal Commission. For many years, the name Carbine will be remembered in the horse world.
Cecil was bred at Glenayre in Glenrock, New South ausceclz.jpg (14237 Bytes)Wales by Mr. W. H. Simpson, and his brother Mr. A. T. Simpson. Cecil was able to win many contests at bushmen carnivals with Arch Simpson as his saddle partner. He was never beaten in a campdraft, and he showed his superiority in novelty events. He was said to have been able to gallop into a pair dray shafts, and then turn within them.
Cecil was so successful, in 1913, Geary’s Flat Bushman’s Carnival barred him. The competition attracted the top horsemen from all over the country, but none could beat Cecil. Arch Simpson was therefore asked to leave his horse wonder at home.
Cecil spent some of his stud career at Cooplacurripa Station. This was also the home of Saladin (another influential stock horse sire). Cecil was killed at Avonlea on the Barrington Tops. He was the third brother of Mr. G. D. Simpson.
Chan was a great horse rider and had a wonderful temperament. Chan had a great deal of progeny over his 26-years. Many descendants are Australian Stock Horses.
Chan was born in 1945. He grew into a handsome horse. His height is just over 15 hands. Chan has two white socks that almost reach the hocks. There are half moons of white around his fore coronets. Chan was a remarkable campdrafter, with his extraordinary ability to pick up and move backwards as quickly as he could walk forward.
Chan died in 1971, but his influence was felt in the breeding of horses. His name is also found in the pedigrees for many Australian Stock Horses.
Queensland has produced many notable sires over the course of the history of Australian Stock Horse Society. Commandant, a brown stallion from Queensland, is one of the most well-known sires. Commandant is known as a sire to Stock Horses, and campdrafters. His progeny are all excellent Stock Horses, and many have gone on to become exceptional camp horses.
Cyllene had a remarkable racing record as did his progeny. He was the top sire of racehorses for England in 1909 and 1910. He was the Argentina’s top-ranked sire in 1913. His racing record includes nine victories and two places in 11 starts.
His sons Polymelus, who produced horses such as Silvern or Phalaris, are the ones that most closely influenced Cyllene’s involvement with the Australian Stock Horse Society. Cyllene lived to the age of thirty-three.
Dimray was born in 1938. Ausdimz.jpg (14938 Bytes) was his name and he became a great campdrafter. He was also chosen to represent Hunter Valley at the Sydney Royal Show in 1948. His rider Dimray earned 93 points. This was the highest score for the Sydney show in a long time. He was a top campdrafter in the region, winning five consecutive events. He continued the Radium tradition by producing top-quality working horses and campdrafters when he retired to stud.
Dimray’s influence on the Australian Stock Horse Society was as a sire. This is evident in the Hall of Fame, where his son Reality, his grandson RivoliRay, and his great grandson Cecil Bruce were admitted. Dimray has established an outstanding line of working horses and sires that will carry on the Dimray tradition.
Gainsborough was a remarkable Thoroughbred and achieved many outstanding wins. From nine starts, Gainsborough won five races and placed two others. His achievements as a sire of racehorses were even greater. He was the leading sire for Juveniles and Broodmares in 1931. In 1933, he was also the leading sire for racehorses.
Gainsborough, a strong type who stood 15.3 hands tall, was an ideal foundation sire for Australian Stock Horses. His sons, Solario Emborough, Emborough, and Bobsleigh are all examples of his influence.
Gibbergunyah was bred by Mr. J. H. Doyle in 1922 at Warrandeen Station, near Talwood (Queensland). When he was two years old, he was purchased by Mr. Finley and Sons Of Thornthwaithe. He was then broken down to be used for stock horses. He was a good performer, and he was used to breed when he was five. Although he was used at Thornthwaite as a sire from 1927-1945, he had very few mares outside of Thornthwaite. Vivid, one of his progeny won 23 open campdrafts to Jack Palmer.
The stock of Gibbergunyah horses became very popular as polo ponies and stock horses. The Ashton brothers brought some of his progeny back to England in 1938. In 1939, there were 18 Gibbergunyah horses participating in polo at the Dudley Cup. Gibbergunyah is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest polo sires, along with Panzer.
Gibbergunyah had quite a few colts. However, Arragundy was his last foal. Arragundy was born in 1946 and died in 1973.
Moorefield, a brown mare stallion, was born in 1889. He also won the AJC Villiers Stakes as a racehorse. The Australian Stock Horse Society is most proud of Moorefield’s son Bruce and his descendants. Bruce was the father of many colts, including My Bruce. Bobbie Bruce is his most well-known son.
Pantheon was a bay mare that was foaled in England in 1921. He was then imported to Australia. He was a great stayer and was very healthy for his age. In the 1926 Melbourne Cup, he was 9/4 favourite and finished third behind Spearflet.
His sire status was achieved through the good deeds many of his progeny, including Hyperion and Pandion as well as Avenger, Feminist, Pantler, and Maikai. But his most beloved son was Peter Pan. Peter Pan won the Melbourne Cup in 1932, and again in 1934. Panthom and Pantler are the most well-known names in the stock horse world. Panthom is most well-known as Panzer’s sire.
In 1918, Cecil’s greatest son was born. He began to demonstrate his extraordinary ability as a stock-horseman as he grew up. Radium wasausradz.jpg (11779 Bytes) was also a dominant campdrafting horse. He is also a highly skilled leader in the Stock Horse class for the best type. Over twenty horses competed in the lead Stock Horse class during the Second World War at the Dungog Bushman’s Carnival. Radium was awarded the first place, with four other sons taking the rest. Radium won the Championship Draft at Kempsey, on the north coast New South Wales just before the war. Every time the story is told, a greater number of his descendants fill all the places behind him. Radium’s daughters and sons won the next ten places.
Radium, who was 29 years old, died in 1947 from a genital cancer. Radium’s death was the end of a great horse. However, it was also the beginning of a great line, which is growing stronger than ever before.
Rivoli was born in 1919. Rivoli was a great racehorse. He won weight for age races in Sydney, Melbourne, and won the 1922 AJC Derby. He also came second in the 1923 Melbourne Cup. Three Queensland Cup winners were his offspring, Lominga (1936), Earl Rivoli (40), and Phylex (1951). Rivoli was 26 when he had Phylex.
Rivoli is a stallion in many Australian Stock Horse pedigrees. The Rivoli line has been highly sought after. Rivoli Ray (205) has been the horse that brought the name Rivoli into public attention. His success in ridden competitions and performance in leading events has been well documented.
Saladin stock seems to have a long life expectancy. A number of Saladin mares have lived well into their thirties, and they still produce foals after thirty. Although it isn’t known when Saladin died or foaled, it is believed that he died around 1900.
Cecil and his family owe a lot of Saladin and his descendants. Cecil has had many mares from Saladin blood given to his grandsons and sons. Even though Saladin died and rose to prominence more than 100 years ago, the influence of his blood can still be felt in horses today.
Despite the international recognition that Australian horses won, and despite the fact that the Waler was a distinct type, there was not a registry or stud book for the breed. The need to work horses decreased with the introduction of technology in primary industries. It wasn’t until the 1960s that horses were rediscovered. The increasing amount of leisure time available to society led to this revival.
The 1971 Sydney Royal Show saw Mr. Alex Braid from Wellington, New South Wales, and Mr. Bert Griffith, Scone gather a group of enthusiastic people to discuss the creation of a society. About 100 people met in Tamworth in June 1971 to form the Australian Stock Horse Society. This society finally gave the breed recognition and formal organization that it deserved.
The Society quickly grew and branches were formed in Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. In 1973, the movement reached Victoria and then Western Australia and Tasmania. The society had registered more than 40,000 horses by 1979, and membership had risen from 100 to 12,000 in the beginning. On August 1, 1988, the Stud Book was closed. Horses that had been registered before were made Stud Book. Only horses that conform to the Society’s regulations are allowed to register since the Society’s Stud Book was closed.
The Australian Stock Horse Society Limited’s purpose is to preserve the identity of the Stock Horse and their breeding records through registration and to promote their attributes through performances and exhibitions. The Society today has 66 branches across Australia with its Head Office in Scone, New South Wales. Scone is the ideal location for the Stock Horse Headquarters as it is located in one of Australia’s most prestigious horse breeding areas and is also home to many famous Stock Horse bloodlines.