The Waler Horse is a relatively new ‘breed’ with anonymous lineage that many claim is in fact a type rather than an independent breed. It is believed to have developed in Australia during the 19th century with the introduction of horses to the colonies. These horses were subsequently crossbred and the resulting animals adopted the name ‘Walers’ from the New South Wales colony.
Walers were versatile working horses that likely combined Thoroughbred, Arabian, Cape horse and Timor pony influence. They were known for their sound health and conformation, their willingness and enthusiasm in working capacities and their endurance over difficult terrain. The Waler was able to thrive on the rugged landscape and pasture, maintaining its weight carrying capabilities, speed and strength without compromise.
Because the Waler’s precise forebears are unknown, there is no exacting standard for the breed or Waler type. Generally speaking, a Waler will stand at a height of 15-16 hands on well balanced and conformed legs, with a strong head and a thick mane and tail. Today, the Waler is used by the Australian mounted police and as a stock and utility horse, although it was originally used a military mount and by bush troopers.
Despite its endurance and courage during times of warfare, the Waler and other light working animals were passed over in favour of purebreds and, with the advent of mechanisation, the breed faced imminent extinction. Despite efforts being made to preserve the Waler, today numbers remain at an all-time low.
Many Walers were accepted into the Australian Stock Horse studbook when the society formed in 1971, so there is perhaps more of these horses in existence than many believe.