War Horse: The Story of The Australian Waler

18 April 2019 Written by VRC

These courageous and intelligent horses are considered the unsung heroes of service.

Carrying our courageous troops through battles and wars, were the unsung equine heroes, whose loyalty and companionship will be forever cherished by their riders.

The Australian Waler horse gained fame for its courage, endurance and versatility in WWI and it’s estimated that 160,000 were exported from Australia.

Originating from a diverse mix of horse breeds, including the Thoroughbred and Arab, the Waler possesses the qualities of hardiness, stamina and speed combined with natural courage and intelligence. The breed was regarded by the British as ‘the finest cavalry horse in the world’

The horses were given the name ‘Waler’ as the breed originated in the colony of New South Wales.

In telling of the courage and endurance of the Walers, war correspondent Sir Henry (Harry) Gullett captured the imagination of Australians. His widely-read articles at the end of the war told of ‘thoroughbred triumphs’ and of the affection of the Light Horsemen towards their mounts.

In the early part of WWI, Australian Waler horses were specifically bred from thoroughbred sires and mares. Gullett believed that "the ‘great horses’ of the regiments… are in every case horses which might have been metropolitan hurdle racers or steeplechasers".

Other writers noted that sons and grandsons of Cups and classics winners were among the Australian Walers in Palestine and the Western Front.