Australian Stock Horse History
By Jeanette Gower
From the arrival of the First Fleet in 1778, Australian horses were selectively bred for strength and stamina, reliability and versatility. Parent stock included Thoroughbred, Cape of Good Hope horses (of mainly Spanish descent), Arab, Timor and Mountain pony. The strongest were retained for breeding and despite their mixed origins they developed into a strong and handsome type. It was only 40 years after the first horses were brought to this country that the exportation of high quality horses began. The Waler (from New South Wales) was considered to be the finest cavalry horse in the world, winning International acclaim for its endurance, reliability and hardiness during the Indian Mutiny, the Boer war and the First World War.
From this base the Australian Stock Horse has been further refined and developed using recognised outstanding sires of the day. Great taproot sires of the breed have been Saladin (1875-1890?), Cecil (1899 - 1920?) and his son Radium (1918 - 1947), Medlow, Silvius and Bruce. More recently names like Rivoli, Commandant, Panzer, Midstream, Young Valais, Gibbergunyah, Bushfire and Deo Juvante, all Thoroughbreds, have exerted considerable influence and demand for these lines is very high.
The Australian Stock Horse Society was formed in 1971 to preserve and promote this wonderful breed. Horses were classified into the studbook on the basis of type and breeding. The fourteen sires listed above were found by Peter Gower to be responsible for most of the bloodlines accepted into the Society Australia-wide. Many well-bred Australian Stock Horses will trace to one of these taproot sires.
In recent years some Quarter Horse breeding has been used but this is unacceptable to purists who prefer to stay with established Thoroughbred lines. The price of introducing outside blood is hefty Society fees, thus ensuring breeders only bring in worthwhile horses.
The Australian Stock Horse excels at polo, plus Australia's two unique horse sports, polocrosse and campdrafting. Because of its quick reflexes and ability to calm right down in an instant. Its natural sensitivity and responsiveness enables it to be a true snaffle bit horse for station work, hunting, and sporting events, and its boldness across country makes it ideal for eventing and endurance riding. Who can forget the incredible scenes of the stock horses in the film The Man from Snowy River?
Above all the Australian Stock Horse has been selected for beauty, temperament and intelligence, ideal for hacking, dressage and family pleasure riding. The well known South Australian Stock Horse, Crown Law, represented Australia in World Championship and Olympic dressage, and several Australian show jumpers of Stock Horse breeding are representing Australia internationally.
In recent years intense show ring competition has led to a dramatic increase in the depth and quality of breeding stock, and a friendly but professional approach to presentation and training. The Australian Stock Horse is tough but stylish and its popularity is growing daily. Top prices at auction regularly reach over $10,000 with average prices in excess of $5,000.
WHAT IS AN AUSTRALIAN STOCK HORSE?
The following description has been prepared by Peter and Jeanette Gower as a "Standard of Excellence".
The Australian Stock Horse is a special type saddle horse - not all saddle horses make good Stock Horses, but all good Stock Horses are top saddle horses. Above all else the Australian Stock Horse is an athlete, unmistakably bloodhorse, with a generous desire to work, averaging 15 - 15.2 hands.
He is highly adaptable, and smart, capable of handling himself well at speed. Like a well trained sheepdog he enjoys action, but does not use his energy until asked.
His nature and courage is truly incredible - he easily develops a close bond with his human carer, and when put to the test will often give more than it is thought possible under extraordinary circumstances.
· Well defined wither so the saddle never shifts.
· Lean elegant neck with tremendous length of rein.
· Short strong back to carry weight.
· Long underline and deep girth for stamina.
· Short cannons and a neat hoof, for agility.
· Legs refined and hardy/wiry with no trace of coarseness.
· Long, rounded hindquarters no higher than the withers, for quick bursts of speed.
· Superior walking ability - the best of any breed in the world.
· Relaxed, easy canter on a small circle.
· Smooth when galloped downhill - Gallop low to the ground.
· Surefooted, active, tough and sturdy.
· Versatile - Ability to jump great height for its size.
· Alert, responsive, calm and stylish.
He is not shown stretched but square so as to emphasize a hindleg set well under the body. He is shown preferably in traditional Australian dress, well trimmed with hogged or pulled mane/tail but English informal attire is also acceptable with plaited mane and tail. Broken horses are traditionally led in a bridle.
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