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7 Australian Horse Breeds (with Pictures)
Although many breeds and types of horses have been introduced to Australia over the centuries, there are only a few that might be considered adopted Australian breeds or that have specifically been bred on Australian shores. As in most areas of the world, the horse was first used for transport and for agricultural and other working purposes. They are now used for pleasure riding, draught work, and competition and lessons. The seven main breeds of Australian horses are the following.
1. Australian Draught
Bred by combining the Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, and Suffolk Punch draught horses, the Australian Draught comes in any coat color and may have white markings, especially below the knee. The official studbook for the breed was established in 1979, so this is a new breed that was initially used for heavy farm and agricultural work.
Although their demand for farm work has dwindled, the breed remains popular as a working horse and is especially common on small farms. They are good riding horses and are also used in competitions.
2. Australian Pony
The Australian Pony was recognized as a distinct breed in 1920 after the successful breeding of Arabian and Welsh Pony bloodlines. They are small animals, measuring between 11 and 14 hands, and although they would have been used for light draught work during their early years, they are now preferred as riding horses for children and small adults.
They have an inquisitive and bright nature and take well to new tasks, and they are highly regarded in competitive circles, especially for dressage and showjumping events.
3. Australian Riding Pony
The Australian Riding Pony has a similar name to the Australian Pony but is a separate breed that was first established in the 1970s. It has Arabian heritage, combined with the British Riding Pony and the Thoroughbred.
This breed looks like a small Thoroughbred, and while the size can vary, the Australian Riding Pony will never measure more than 14 hands high. They are popular as a child’s riding horse and do well in competitive eventing.
4. Australian Stock Horse
The Australian Stock Horse is larger than pony breeds, measuring between 14 and 16.2 hands. They are popular in Australia, with nearly 200,000 examples currently registered. They are a competitive horse with excellent stamina levels that make them ideal for a whole host of different events and uses.
They were formally recognized in 1971, having been bred from Arabian, Barb, Spanish, and Thoroughbred horses. They are popular because besides being intelligent, they are also calm, level-headed, and thoughtful animals that make great companions.
The Brumby is a wild horse that lives in the Australian Alps, Northern Territory, and Queensland today. There are nearly half a million examples of the breed, and the number continues to rise. While many people view them as being a natural part of Australian heritage and wildlife, their massive increase in numbers leads some people to view them as being a pest. This could be why the wild herds are known as mobs, rather than herds. It is believed that the modern Brumby originates from the British pony and draught breeds and that they stemmed from horses that were let go after making the journey over to Australia from the U.K.
6. Coffin Bay Pony
The Coffin Bay Pony is sometimes mistaken for the Brumby, because they lead a semi-feral life, but they reside on private land and are, in fact, privately owned. As a pony, they do not measure above 14 hands high. They originated from 60 Timor ponies taken to Coffin Bay by English settlers from Indonesia. When domesticated, they make good horses for children, and they are quite approachable and friendly even when living in the wild.
Once called the New South Walers, the Waler breed comes from Arabian, Cape, Timor, and Thoroughbred lines, and it is accepted that they include heavy draught horse genetics. They were famed for their hardiness and stamina, especially during the colonization of the country.
Walers measure between 15 and 16 hands and have been used as warhorses and for their incredible stamina over the centuries.
Australian Horse Breeds
These seven breeds are considered Australian breeds, although many other horse breeds are also found in the country. They are still used for ranching and transport, but the most common uses for these incredible breeds are for pleasure riding, teaching, and competitive eventing.
Featured Image Credit: Katrina Swinnley, Wikimedia
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.