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10 Native Australian Horse Breeds

10 Native Australian Horse Breeds

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Australia is a vast, beautiful country, home to some of the most interesting animals in the world. There are also some beautiful horse breeds that are native to Australia.

The most popular native Australian horse breeds include the Brumby, Australian Draught, Australian Pony, Australian Riding Pony, Australian Stock Horse, Australian Stud Saddle Pony, Coffin Bay, Waler, Australian Saddle Pony, and Australian Spotted Pony. Each of these beautiful breeds owes their origins to the Land Down Under.

Here are ten native Australian horse breeds.

1. Brumby

Australian Brumby horse herd in the wild
Beck Dunn Photography /

The Brumby is a free-roaming feral horse breed commonly found in the Australian Alps, Northern Territory, and also Queensland. They are the descendants of horses that became lost or escaped from early European settlers.

A group of Brumbies is referred to as a mob or band. They come from a mix of different breeds including the Thoroughbred, Irish Draft, Arabian, British Pony, and Australian Draft, among others. There are around 400,000 of these wild horses roaming throughout Australia, as they have no natural predators.

Brumby horses stand between 12-16.2 hands tall and come in just about every color. Though they typically have sturdy builds, but their conformation does vary. Domesticated Brumbies and make reliable choices for riding and driving due to their intelligence and trainability.

2. Australian Draught

Australian Draft horses pulling a plough

The Australian Draught is a draft breed that originated in the early 1800s by English settlers. They are the result of crossbreeding four main breeds: the Clydesdale, Shire, Percheron, and Suffolk Punch.

During Australia’s boom of agriculture and the gold rush, people were in need of a heavier horse. Crossing these four main draft breeds along with some lighter horses and draft-crosses led to the creation of the Australian Draught. The studbook for the Australian Draught was officially formed in 1979.

Australian Draught horses stand between 16-17.3 hands tall, with all solid colors allowed. They have a strong, muscular build with light to medium feathering.

These hardy horses excel at agriculture work, logging, driving, and also pleasure driving.

3. Australian Pony

Australian Pony breed

Elegant and refined, the Australian Pony’s origins trace back to 1788 when settlers arrived with nine horses. Later, in 1803, Timor ponies were also imported and are considered the foundation of the breed.

Many other breeds contributed to the development of Australian Pony including the Thoroughbred, Hackney Pony, Welsh Pony, Connemara Pony, Exmoor Pony, Shetland Pony, Arabian, and Highland Pony. In 1931, the studbook for the breed was officially formed. They quickly became a popular breed within Australia.

The Australian Pony stands between 11-14 hands tall and all colors are allowed, besides pinto, with gray being the most popular. They have a refined head, well-set neck, strong yet fine legs, and a deep chest.

With a great presence and a popular child’s mount, they excel at dressage, jumping, gymkhana, driving, and also hunter pleasure.

4. Australian Riding Pony

Australian Riding Pony
CarolineJoinsSentences /

Originating in the 1970s, The Australian Riding Pony comes from crossing the bloodlines of British Riding Ponies, Thoroughbreds, and Arabians. They are small versions of elegant Show Hacks and are popular show ponies for children.

There are three foundation sires of the Australian Riding Pony: Aristocrat of Flawforth, Treharne Talisman, and The Laird. The breed grew in popularity, appearing at several Royal Shows, after the studbook formed in 1980.

Australian Riding Ponies stand between 12.2 -14.2 hands tall and come in all solid colors, with gray, black, and bay being the most popular. They have a refined head, a well-arched neck, and sturdy yet fine legs. These graceful ponies make excellent children’s mounts for dressage, eventing, jumping, gymkhana, and also driving.

5. Australian Stock Horse

Australian Stock Horse and foal cantering in a field
John Carnemolla /

The Australian Stock Horse is a hardy breed that traces back to the first horses to come to Australia. The breed’s early origins include Welsh Mountain Pony, Timor Pony, Cape of Good Hope Horse, Arabian, and also Thoroughbred blood.

The Australian Stock Horse has superior stamina and strength. In the mid-20th century, Quarter Horse blood was also incorporated into the breed stock. They became officially recognized in 1971 by the Australian Stock Horse Society.

The Australian Stock Horse stands between 14-16.2 hands tall and they come in all colors, with bay being the most popular. They have a muscular build with strong hindquarters, a deep chest, and a long neck.

A versatile breed, they are popular for dressage, polo, eventing, jumping, western, and also endurance.

6. Australian Stud Saddle Pony

The Australian Stud Saddle Pony is derived from crossing any registered pony breed with Arabian horses. Above all, they are first and foremost a saddle pony.

The breed combines the true pony characteristics with the temperament and also added qualities of the Arabian breed. The Australian Stud Saddle Pony Society held its inaugural meeting in the 1970s.

Australian Stud Saddle Ponies have a maximum height of 14.2 hands. They must be a solid color, with the exception of cremello or perlino. They have a refined, elegant build with an excellent temperament making them great for children. As a versatile breed, they make a great horse for dressage, eventing, jumping, and hunter pleasure.

7. Coffin Bay Pony

Coffin Bay Pony

The Coffin Bay Pony is a semi-feral breed that lives on privately owned land. They trace back to 1839 when English settlers brought over 60 Timor ponies from Indonesia.

Captain Hawson, who brought over the 60 original ponies, intended to use them for breeding. In 1847, he moved the ponies to a strip of land at Coffin Bay Run. It was here where the ponies became semi-wild and later the introduction of Welsh Cob, Thoroughbred, Arabian, Clydesdale, and Hackney blood.

Coffin Bay Ponies stand around 14.2 hands tall and are typically bay, black, chestnut, roan, and gray. They have two main types, the lighter saddle type, and a strong-boned Galloway. There is an annual round-up and the breed is suitable for riding and driving.

8. Waler

Australian Waler Horse cantering in a field

Developed in Colonial Australia, the Waler comes from breeding heavy draught types, Timor Ponies, native British ponies, Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Cape horses together. In addition, they have a similar heritage to the Australian Stock Horse.

Walers are hardy horses, making them excellent saddle horses. They have been a popular calvary horse throughout history. During WWI, the Australian Light Horse Brigade heavily relied on Waler horses, as a result exporting over 100,000 for war.

Walers typically stand between 14.2-16 hands tall and are commonly chestnut, bay, black, brown, or gray. They are a sturdy, muscular breed with four types recognized: Pony, Officer, Trooper, and Artillery. Thanks to their versatility and also their intelligence, they compete in a variety of disciplines.

9. Australian Saddle Pony

The Australian Saddle Pony comes mostly from Australian Pony, Welsh Pony, Thoroughbred, and also Arabian bloodlines. They have a slightly heavier build and tend to be a bit calmer than the Australian Saddle Pony too.

In 1978, Australian Saddle Pony Association became incorporated as a public company. Though they have many uses, the breed is specifically ideal for Pony Club competition.

Australian Saddle Ponies stand between 11-14.2 hands tall and are typically black, grey, brown, palomino, buckskin, or pinto.

As a reliable companion for children, the breed is suitable for a variety of disciplines including dressage, eventing, and jumping.

10. Australian Spotted Pony

Australian Spotted Ponies share similar coat patterns to Appaloosas. They can be crossed with approved breeds including Australian Ponies, Welsh Ponies, Dartmoor Ponies, Shetland Ponies, Palouse Ponies, New Forest Ponies, Australian Riding Ponies, and also Arabians.

There are four categories of Australian Spotted Ponies: Category A (Breeding and Showing), Category B (Breeding Only), Category C (Showing Only), and Category H (Hardship). Though they are most ideal for children, they can also make great mounts for small adults.

Australian Spotted Ponies must be under 14 hands tall. They come in a variety of different spotted coat patterns and have a slightly crested neck, also a well-muscled body.

Hardy as well as elegant, these ponies make excellent mounts for many disciplines including jumping and dressage.