- Origin: Australia.
- Height: Varies. About 16hh is preferred.
- Color: All colors.
- Character: Brave, sensible and enduring.
Physique: Varies considerably. The best have an alert head with straight face, wide nostrils, longish ears; neck well set on strong shoulders; good depth of girth, strong back and hindquarters; clean legs with plenty of bone and strong hocks.
Horses are not indigenous to Australia. The earliest forerunners of the Waler one stallion, three mares, a colt and two fillies of predominantly Spanish blood — were brought from the Cape of Good Hope with the First Fleet of settlers in 1798. During the next few years other, better quality imports were brought from England into the early settled territories then collectively known as New South Wales, from which the name “Waler” derives.
The extensive rich pastureland and warm, dry climate of Australia was andis favorable to horse breeding, and the small numbers of early stock were easy to multiply. In 1810 Australia had 1,134 horses; in 1821 there were4,564. Massive improvement with top quality Arab and Thorough bredim ports produced a horse which, during the first half of the 19th century, came close to being an Anglo-Arab in all but name. It was highly regardedas a saddle horse and was much in demand as a cavalry remount by the British Army in India.
The gold rush of the 1850s and 1860s was responsible for a rapid deterioration of the Waler. Farming was neglected and horses were allowed to roam fairly freely and often to breed as they chose, and in addition demand for small draught horses to pack the gold encouraged many breeders to disregard the true saddle horse type. Not until the 1880s, when accumulated gold began to burn the pockets of the newly rich, did interest turn to luxury hobbies such as the breeding of quality horses, and then it was that the Waler was regenerated.
As quality saddle stock, the Waler had its heyday early in the 20thcentury. Subsequent mechanization has led to a decline both in numbers and in consistency of quality, so that the Waler of today is more of a type than abreed. It had its finest hour during World War I, when more than 120,000were exported for the Allied armies in India, Africa, Palestine and Europe. When the war was finished Australian quarantine laws made the repatriation of these horses impossible, and many were destroyed in the desert by an Australian government order. A bronze memorial in Sydney stands in memory of them today, erected by members of the Desert Mounted Corps and friends, to the gallant horses who carried them over the Sinai desert into Palestine, 1915 to 1919. They suffered wounds, thirst, hunger, and weariness almost beyond endurance, but never failed. They did not come home.
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