Angela Tiede marks the one-year anniversary of walerdatabase.online Image: Cordillo Downs Station c. 1922-1935, Photograph, B 71652/76.
In 2016 a small group of Waler owners and breeders decided to make a public record of all known Walers as such a record did not exist, Walers need all the public support they can get, and knowledge is fast disappearing.
The Australian Waler Horse Data Base website was created in 2018 to provide this public record, and the Waler Data Base FaceBook page was also started to support Walers and our horse history.
A brand-new website to refresh and expand the public record was launched on 11 September 2022, walerdatabase.online, and content was broadened to encompass all we know about the Waler breed before the knowledge is lost, along with stories about our early horse history.
Most of the founding generation of the Waler studbook from the 1980s are now gone, and in due course those pioneering founders of the save the Waler project will follow (like Reg Wilson to whom the Walers and Timor Ponies owe so much), such is the march of time. We therefore feel a sense of urgency to build on our website resource and are always interested to receive information and photographs and stories to include, so we can fill in knowledge gaps and perhaps also assist those seeking more information about their Walers. To facilitate this, we have a ‘Does Anyone Know?’ set of questions cycling through on the website home page, and below is an example from our FaceBook page in 2020 stemming from an enquiry sent to the website (information yet to come to light).
“We bought & homed 2 wild horses that were trucked in a shipment to Dromana, Vic, in 1988. We took a colt and a filly … she was beautiful in temperament and build. Usual dark colouring, short stiff mane and splashes of chestnut underneath and feather…. we called the filly Amy. That was 32 years ago.
…They were sold out of our Mt Eccles property, Leongatha North in 1989. I would love to know what happened to them as my husband sold them without consulting me…. I would be very happy for you to put my story on Facebook, to see if anyone out there remembers they came to Leongatha North early 1989 to buy 2 Walers, on a 3 acre block with old cowshed! …
A Chestnut Colt with a rear left leg wound and an amazing pert little Filly, dark dark Brown with a stiff short mane, Chestnut underneath and feather at her fetlocks. If alive they would be 32+ years old. I may get to know where they went and if they had progeny. A nice conclusion to my end of the story.. Thank you…”
An important element of the website and FaceBook page are the photographs. They provide a quick way of keeping in mind what a Waler looks like as historical photographs can be juxtaposed with current photographs. For those interested in the originals there is no better way to check if the Waler you have now is actually representative of the Waler. Losing sight of this means losing the Waler, it’s really that simple.
Images: An unidentified soldier holds the reins of ‘Patch’, Lieutenant Colonel J D Richardson, Commanding Officer of the 7th Light Horse Regiment’s (7ALH) original charger, 25-26 November 1918, AWM; Waler mare Faith granddaughter of Dardanelle, 2020; The horse Bobbie which joined the 2nd Battery of the Australian Field Artillery, AIF, in September 1914 as an officer’s charger for Lieutenant J.C. Selmes DSO. The horse retired in December 1918, AWM.
Waler gelding Sapling, 2018; Hansom cab decorated for Miss Cadell’s wedding at Deepwater Homestead – Deepwater, 1907, NSW State Library NSW; Waler gelding Verdi, 2016 (Sapling & Verdi are grandsons of Dardanelle).
The photographs also provide a fascinating visual record of our horse history, bringing it to life. So much was achieved thanks to their efforts, and it is wonderful to see good old-fashioned horses at work. Those were the days of just getting on with it.
Image: ‘… taken at Quandialla, in the Bland country, after the last rains. A great puller… Charlie is apparently as great a puller as he is a leader. This photo presents a fine study in action.’ Sydney Mail, 3rd November, 1926.
From actual photographic images to artworks depicting events, the story of the early days building our nation reminds us to think big and put in the effort needed to realise those aspirations. The Walers are an important link and I believe we have a real responsibility to find a more secure future for them. Please help us celebrate our first year of the new website by visiting us often to learn and enjoy, sharing links from our pages, and making contact if you know anything more about the Walers that are in our database, or should be.
Images: …Maffra, Victoria 1916, Museums Vic (a good dash of Timor by the look of it); The Mail Coach by W.F. Baldwin, Wallangra, NSW, The Australasian Photo Review, 23rd November 1913; A Girl Scout…. Mallee, Victoria c. 1915. Museums Vic.
Images: Bringing Up the Guns, 1917; Horse Lines, 1921: paintings by one of Australia’s official war artists – one of our great artists and one of the world’s best horse artists – H. Septimus Power. His work is unique – a genuine horse lover, he made our horses as heroic as our men in war.
Images: Workers of the Bendigo Country Roads Board constructing a road using horse-drawn scoops, c. 1915, Museums Vic; C Sharp’s trick pony at the Coffs Show, 1920, photo by R.E. Crombie Coffs Collections; Wheat stack, Loxton railway yard… c. 1915, State Library S.A.
Our current projects section seeks to inspire and inform, as without ongoing research to learn more we won’t progress the Waler project. Identifying new sources of foundation horses is as important as ever! Our last efforts were to add to the studbook by capturing horses from Todd River Downs. We are currently working on researching DNA (learn more about the importance of this testing in our Conservation Genetics section) and seeking to bring back Waler and Timor ponies. Please join in if you are interested and able.