Background Breeds

Janet Lane on Waler Data Base @ Facebook. Image: Sunday Times (Perth), 10th August 1919.

Percherons. As we know, Walers were developed from the breeds brought here in horse days. We are taking a look at these breeds one by one, as time allows.

Apologies for the photos being from old newspapers – can’t find quality photos in archives – however one can contact them to get a quality print from news photos at reasonable cost – source in comments under each photo.

There was a heightened interest in the breed after WW1 as they had been seen in France – their crossbred offspring performing an outstanding job as artillery horses.

A group of Percherons in 1938
Chronicle (Adelaide), 31st March 1938

Australia imported the breed from Britain, France, Canada and America. The dates of first imports here, am unsure about; however in 1883 several ‘Norman Percheron’ stallions were imported from France including Mustapha, a grey roan with black points, Figaro, a dapple grey, Bayard, a dark bay with black points, and L’Africaine, pure black. Grey became the most popular colour, often chosen here over other colours with later imports. Chestnuts also were seen. The type varied too, some lines being lighter/heavier than others.

Some of our horses sent to WW1 had Percheron ancestry, and so did some police greys and teams of grey harness horses used in cities such as by Macpherson the confectioner.

During the 1930’s and ’40’s we imported several, surprisingly some believed the horse trade was still viable – we did still use a lot for work (the NSW government also bought a lovely stallion in 1947 to breed good work horses). We in turn exported Percherons to NZ for a century or so.

A goup of Percherons for the Sydney Show in 1938

Image: Chronicle, 31st March 1938

A powerful draught, docile, yet active from the dash of eastern blood in old French draughts, the Percheron was a great cross, either half or quarter bred, for coach horses, hunters, working horses and army horses. Several went to stations to breed for India. A grand founding breed of the Waler.

The photos included in this post are a sample of Percherons brought here.

Invincible (photo above left) was imported from France by Mr. Michael Corbett of “Tellyarup” at Gnowangerup, Western Australia. Arriving in 1912 as a three year old, he cost 750 pounds from French breeder Mr. Pusen, bought while Mr. Corbett was on a trip to France, after he’d seen Percherons working in America.

Praise soon flowed in…”A kitten in spite of the fact he is regularly worked in the plough and in other teams.” Western Australian, 24th Nov. 1913.

A good Percheron mare, Gustine (photo above right), was imported with him. Both won many show prizes at the local annual show.

Invincible stood stud at Broomehill and Narrogin as well as Gnowangerup, as a half share was sold to Mr. A. Hardie of Narrogin – to help make his services available to a wider area. Although he was kept working in harness as well, never kept solely for stud, always in working condition. A successful cross when put over light mares for “the perfect type of army remount” was recommended (Western Mail 9th Feb 1916). Papers praised this cross as every bit as good as Suffolk Punch crosses.

In 1918, Mr. M. Corbett generously presented a pair of Percherons to the Gnowangerup Red Cross, to sell for fund raising – bred from his stallion and mare.

In 1919 Invincible was sold to Moola Bulla station in the east Kimberley, arriving there in very good condition in June 1919. Three Thoroughbred stallions and a Suffolk Punch from the Homebush stud also went there. Moola Bulla was used to train some returned soldiers to become soldier settlers, prior to giving them land grants.

Posted by Enoch Waler

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