Walers at Collingwood Children’s Farm

Angela Tiede, 2022. Image: Waler mare Coolibah in the stables at the Farm

Waler gelding Fisher's first visit to Collingwood Children's Farm, 2007

Rare breeds and a special place in the hearts and minds of regulars and chance visitors alike, where better to put Waler horses to use?!

When I met my first Waler horse in 2005 (Fisher pictured) and became aware of how low their profile is in the general community, I knew I had an opportunity to give them a chance to find an appreciative audience as I was a regular Farm visitor.

At the time, I worked in the educational publishing sector and resided in Abbotsford, Melbourne, just one street away from the Collingwood Children’s Farm. How convenient!

So, I searched high and low for the right horse and purchased Waler mare Mega for use on free lease at the Farm, where she excelled as a Waler ambassador for well over a decade, spending 4-6 months each year there then coming back to my property for R&R. I also committed to visiting the Farm with other Walers on ANZAC Day and the Horses’ Birthday family days to provide an opportunity for visitors to enjoy the horses and learn more about them and their very special place in our history. Enoch’s mum Ballawinnie also had a few years on the Farm, and I bred Enoch to eventually become the next Waler ambassador at the Farm, assuming all that needs to fall into place to make this happen really does fall into place.

Over these, now many, years I have seen time and again how special these horses are. How they behave and how they are received is just as it should be, providing wonderful experiences for all involved, horses included.

Waler horses were bred in Australia for Australian conditions and are an intrinsic part of our heritage, from farm work, sport and leisure to the most famous cavalry horse in the world, the Walers are one of our best ambassadors. That they are a rare breed now and unknown to many Australians is a sad reflection of our inability to look to the part animals have played in the development of our nation, and where better to educate a broader audience to this than the Collingwood Children’s Farm?

I hope to continue the association of Waler horses with the Farm, and I am always on the look-out for suitably aged and experienced horses to put forward as candidates for the Farm herd in what is a very busy environment. It’s not easy as rare breed experienced older horses whose owners are prepared to part with them permanently or for months at a time are a very rare breed indeed. My gelding Enoch is a long-term project of at least 10-15 years from birth in 2015 to a potential role at the Farm. Luckily, he is gaining public experience via his Enoch Waler FB profile and the occasional visit to the Farm on family days.

Fortunately, I am greatly assisted by the Corso Family, who since 2021 have been bringing their two mares Coolibah and Piperita for the visits to the Farm.

I am doing this as I believe the project to be of mutual benefit to the Farm and the Walers, how better to educate a broader audience to the role these horses played in our history and to augment the other rare breeds at the Farm? In an ideal world I reckon every Australian child should have an opportunity to meet a Waler, once met never forgotten, and how much richer the lives of horse and child will be. The Farm can help to provide a community role for the Walers that they once had, so important given all the challenges facing young people day-to-day. More than this, Walers cross all generations, somewhere way back in most Australian families is a connection to a Waler horse.

For stories about my visits in 2023 check out ANZAC Day and the Horses’ Birthday posts.

Posted by Angela Tiede

Educator and Waler advocate and owner since 2006.