The first horses that were introduced to Australia were 2
stallions (male horses) and 5 mares (female horses). These
horses were brought over with the
First Fleet in 1788. From
these 7 horses the populations grew. By the 1800’s there were
more than 70 or more in the growing colony and shortly after
that strays were sighted and reported in the foothills of the
Blue Mountains, just outside Sydney. The first strays were
recorded in 1804.
©U.S. BLM.In the times of ‘pioneer Australia’, horses were originally used for transport etc. but with the introduction of the Dromedary Camel to Australia in 1840, horses were released, destroyed or escaped. In the desert and grasslands, camels are more practical as they can survive long periods without food and water, unlike horses.
From the 1830’s until the eve of World War II, many Australian properties bred horses of the breed that became known as Walers. The horse was named after the colony (now state) of New South Wales.
These horses were bred from a mixture of all horses. Some of these horses were bred from Clydesdales, which are a ‘heavy-duty’ horse, with a lighter breed of horse. Such breeding produces the combination of strength and speed. This technique is called ‘selective breeding’.
Walers were bred for use in the British Imperial Forces in the Colonial Wars and World War I. Soon after World War I finished, the horses were released due to the invention of the automobile. The horse was no longer required as much as in the pioneer years.
What is a ‘Brumby’?
The term ‘Brumby’ is used in Australia in reference to wild or feral horses. The derivation of the name ‘Brumby’ is unknown. There are many theories to it but the most accepted theory is that there was a prospector called Brumby that let a small group of horses out free in an isolated mountain area in north-east Victoria. Originally the horses were referred as Brumby’s horses, and later on just known as Brumbies.
Another theory is that in 1804 a horse breeder called Lt. Brumby released some of his horses into the wilderness of the Blue Mountains. The horses were known as ‘Brumbies’ from then on. Perhaps the horses that were sighted in the foothills of the Blue Mountains were the first ‘Brumby’ horses.