Saturday, November 22, 2008

Australian Stock Horse....really

I am sorry this is coming to you a little late. I have no reasonable excuse other than that I have read three pretty hefty books in the past three days and have been lovin' every second of it. More on that later...for now....

A Brief Summary of the Australian Stock Horse's History:
The origins of the Australian Stock Horse started when English settlers first started colonizing Australia in the late 1780's. They imported Thoroughbreds, Spanish stock, Welsh ponies, Arabians and Barbs. The interbreeding of these horses, and culling of the poor ones, eventually developed an all round saddle horse perfect for the ruff country of the outback and versatile enough to do all the jobs the settlers required. They named these horses, the Waler (After the colony of New South Wales).

These horses developed an international reputation around the world as excellent Calvary horses. Between 1850 and the end of WWI, 400,000 of them were exported to serve in wars around the globe.

Even though the Waler had developed a reputation for hardiness, endurance, and working ability in Australia and abroad, and though their numbers reached the millions, no official breeding registry was formed until 1971! They inspected all horses, mares, and geldings before including them in their "stud book" and by 1978 had come to register 40,000 horses. Today's registry includes over 170,000 horses.

At this time the Waler became known as the Australian Stock Horse to reflect the diverse ability of the breed as an all round stock horse. They were used to work livestock, as saddle horse, harness horses, as Calvary horses, to clear timber, and plow the land.... as such the slogan of the Australian Stock Horse Society became:


Strength. Stamina. Reliability. Versatility ....the cornerstones of the the Australian Stock Horse.

I think the Society sums up the definition of a ASH best so I will go ahead and quote them here:

- "With its versatility, the Australian Stock Horse has achieved outstanding success in a wide variety of sports including: campdrafting, showjumping, dressage, eventing, pony club events, harness, polo and polocrosse.

The Australian Stock Horse is intelligent, with courage, toughness and stamina, and has a good temperament. The Australian Stock Horse is considered possibly the world's most versatile horse, the horse evolved through selective breeding in response to the demands of the environment.

The basic pre-requisites of a high performance horse are a quiet temperament, intelligence and athletic ability. These qualities are essential for a brilliant performance whatever the event."

I think that the ASH Society also best defines their "standard of excellence" (what they look for in a good ASH):
  • Head alert and intelligent with broad forehead, full, well-set eyes, wide nostrils. A fine, clean gullet, allowing plenty of breathing room.
  • A good length of rein, well set into the shoulder.
  • Sloping shoulder, not too heavily muscled, a well-defined wither slightly higher than the croup.
  • Deep chest, not too wide in proportion, but showing plenty of heart room.
  • Ribs well sprung and back strong and of medium length in proportion.
  • In forelegs, forearms well developed, cannon bones slightly flat, pasterns short and slightly sloping.
  • Hindquarters strong, rounded and well muscled, nicely sloping to give a full line from croup to hock. Hocks broad, flat and clean, the cannon relatively short with well-defined tendons. The hind legs well under when standing.
  • The Hooves hard and in proportion to the size of the horse, with a wide heel and feet straight.
  • The whole of these component parts to be in balance according to the size.
  • Preferred heights between 14 and 16 hands.
Australian Stock Horses today:

In Dressage:

In Polo: Campdrafting:
4H: Eventing:
Show Jumping:
And most a stock horse:
And then there is my favorite ASH of all.....
Denny! The Man From Snowy River's horse of course!

*sigh* A girl can dream.....

Shhhh! Dont tell DB!


  1. Great post Chelsi!

    I have always thought that ASH's tend to resemble TB's, such as most of the ones in your pictures, or they resemble the Spanish influence, with their strong, thick necks, big chests, and stout legs...similar to some of the Mustangs that are seen today.

    I guess they are similar to us humans...we either look like supermodels or we don'!!!

    They sound like they are pretty darn versatile too! What a great breed to promote. Hopefully over zealous breeders don't ruin the breed, as they have attempted, and in some bloodlines succeeded, to do to several breeds here in the US.

    Come your money up and buy one!!!!

  2. Fabulous!! Even I didn't know all this... great job!

    You have inspired me to post up the Man From Snowy River - the original poem which the movie is based on. My Dad used to recite it all the time and we would dream about the amazing Man and his pony "hard and tough and wiry, just the sort that won't say 'die', there was courage in his quick, impatient tread"... *sigh*

    Anyway, again, well done. Catch you soon!!

  3. I loved that movie! That sceen when he goes over the cliff?
    My oh my

  4. Yeah.... who didn't want Denny in their pasture after even the first movie - let alone the second. Then they had to kill em off. But I would've take either of those black studs too.

    Great post! I had no idea - but now totally agree...the only possible out-cross for the Quarter Horse! There are several things that they could benefit from without losing any cowyness.

    Maybe even get back some of the "Mr. Do It All" without some of the conformation problems that pledged them - the type of issues that leaves a horse good at everything but an expert at nothing?? Ya know - an out-cross with these could help to eliminate that. With a couple of generations of tinkering you could maybe end up with the ultimate horse....

    I like it. :smile:

  5. Oh girl....(big sigh)...I loved that buckskin horse!! I bawled my darn eyes out when they shot him in the second movie and have refused to buy it.

    I was wondering if he was a ASH, after you posted about them...thanks for the info.

    Now this is a breed that we could use on the QH that would add some of the length and correctness we have lost, without losing the essence of what the QH became famous for...versatility.

  6. It would add some toughness to them too - something that seems to be quickly leaving the QHs - some of that "I'll ride for days in the bush and not come up lame" would be great!

  7. To Melanie..
    For many years certain TB's and QH's were accepted in to the registry so you were not mistaken in what you were seeing.