The Australian Stock Horse

The Australian Stock Horse

Did you know that like the Brumby, the Australian Stock Horse is considered to be part of Australia’s national heritage? In fact, the horse was used during the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. This not only showcases its symbolism to our great country, but also gave many viewers the chance to find out about one of Australia’s oldest horse breeds.

The Australian Stock Horse arrived on our island nation in 1788. To be specific, exactly 9 horses came off the ships of The First Fleet. The breed wasn’t formally recognised until June 1971, though. Back then, over 100 campdrafters and horse breeders met in Tamwork NSW to form the Australian Stock Horse Society (ASHS). Today, there are well over 196,000 registered Australian Stock Horses.

Australian Stock Horses are the result of 5 horse breeds. Early on, they were bred from Arabians, Welsh Mountain Ponies, Timor Ponies and English Thoroughbreds. In the beginning, these horses were bred for the strength and stamina. Weaker animals were commonly culled, allowing only the strongest to live on and thus strengthening the breed. Kind of like the Spartans! Later on, during the mid-1920’s, the American Quarter Horse was also used in breeding the Australian Stock Horse.

Today, this horse breed is used for more than just work on cattle stations. It is also used in competitive disciplines, such as polo, dressage, show jumping, endurance riding and camp drafting competitions. Given that these horses weren’t bred with competition in mind, it’s astounding that the breed has been able to adapt. In fact, Australian Stock Horses have been described as ‘suitable for everyone’ due to their great temperament and versatility.

These horses were bred specifically to deal with Australia’s harsh conditions. As a result, Australian Stock Horses are known for the agility, endurance, intelligence and good temperament. They are both strong and very sure-footed. All areas of the horse are well proportioned compared to its size. Its desired traits include a deep chest, defined withers, a strong and broad back, as well as powerful hindquarters. Overall, a full-grown Australian Stock Horse is about 14 to 16 hands high.