Ned Kelly’s horses

From Waler Data Base @FaceBook. Image: Music, from The Australasian Sketcher With Pen And Pencil, Melbourne, 17th July 1880.

Ned Kelly had a grey mare named Music when he was taken in June 1880. Ned also had a bay mare named Mirth. Details in Ian Jones’s book – thanks for the heads up to Nena (comments).

Photo of Ned Kelly

Image: Ned – Edward Kelly – photo taken by a police photographer, the day before he was hung, November 1880. State Library of Victoria.

When he was under fire at his last stand at Glenrowan, the grey mare, who was devoted to him, followed him about among the trees. Ned was very concerned she’d be hit. There was an eye-witness to his concern for the mare and its affection for him – Scotsman Donald Sutherland, his famous account is in the State Library of Victoria. The police shot the bushrangers’ horses in the little horse paddock by the Glenrowan Inn (in fact the packhorses, the others were safe behind a nearby hotel in stables). Sutherland took a lock of hair from Ned’s mare and sent it with his letter to Scotland. The grey mare was shot in the hindquarters by Sgt. Moore but survived.

Ned’s mother Ellen was an excellent horsewoman, and his sister Kate. His brothers were all noted horsemen. His father John, known as Red Kelly, was said to be a horse thief; never proved although once convicted of stealing a calf. The Kelly’s supposedly bushed their stolen horses in the mountains before running some in to sell; if so, some of the brumbies in the Snowies are their descendants.

Image: Ellen Kelly on horseback. c. 1890. State Library of Victoria.

Photo of Ellen Kelly on horseback

Ned’s grandfather, James Quinn, had a big run – Glenmore Station – at the headwaters of the King River. Ned made good yards and fences for horses there. He was a great breaker. The first horse Ned was accused of stealing – another mare, chestnut with docked tail – had actually been stolen by Isiah “Wild” Wright. Thanks to another helpful comment from Brian for identifying her. Ned said his grey mare at Glenrowan could carry himself in his heavy armour – which weighed 97 lbs. He also used good hefty pack horses.

Once he became an outlaw, Ned and his gang – brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart – stole many horses. Some to ride themselves, some to sell. When Hart stole a good race mare from a Mr. McDougall, on request from McDougall, Ned returned the mare. He also returned another good horse after the owner gave one of his sisters 10 pounds; the horse was worth 60. At Jerilderie in early ’79, they mounted on two bays, a chestnut and a black, the Kelly gang stole 2 branded police horses; one a 16hh grey the other a black.

After Ned was hung on the 11th November, his sister Kate and brother Jim gave horse riding exhibitions behind 128 Pitt Street, Sydney, with Kate’s pony Oliver Twist and a grey mare they said was Ned’s from Glenrowan, named Kitty. Big crowds attended but police arrested and bailed the pair on 25th; on what charge was never apparent. (Telegraph 29th Nov. 1880).

Almost no images of Ned and gang’s horses seem to exist; there are a few with copyright retained by the National Museum.

Images left to right: Bird’s Eye View of Glenrowan, State Library of Victoria, Ned Kelly and his gang attacking a coach, Encyclopedia Britannica, The Gang’s Horses, Weekly Times, Melbourne, Saturday 3 July 1880.

Posted by Enoch Waler

Waler gelding purpose bred to help educate and advocate for Walers, in person and via Facebook and Instagram.