Walers at Lancefield Show

Angela Tiede remembers the first ever (and last as at October 2022!) Waler feature. Image: Newspaper write up for the show, October 2010

I approached the show society for their 100th show in 2010 to see if cob classes could be run, which would be a way of getting Walers to the show without restricting events to a breed. Despite advertising far and wide, it was only Walers that made it on the day: Paper Doll, Fisher, Pearl and Rigoletto. Rain had stopped play for weeks (as it has this year 2022) with most other horse events cancelled, but Lancefield pressed on and despite the soggy ground and a chill prevailing breeze the day was sunny.

Just to set the scene, Fisher, Pearl and Rigoletto are foundation Walers, transported as foals from Newhaven station and rescued from meatworks holding paddocks in South Australia. My gelding Fisher and mare Pearl had been with me since 2006 and under saddle for approximately 2 years and Rigoletto had been overwhelmed by the ridden training her original owners had embarked on so was destined for a saddle free life with me after I purchased her in 2009. Mare Paper Doll had been purchased by her owner as a yearling and started under saddle in 2009. In other words, getting them all to this show was rather a big event, the first time off my property let alone a show for Rigoletto, second time at a show for Pearl and Paper Doll, and just the third time for Fisher. Gulp.

Did I mention I had to buy a horse float too, as my friend who had loaned me hers for the other shows I had taken horses to needed it as she was taking two of our four Walers. The first delivery of said horse float was aborted due to flooded roads, but an alternative route was found and it was safely in the shed the night before the show. Life with Walers is never routine I was discovering.

Pearl Light Horse

Just to add more adventure to the day we decided a Lighthorse touch would be nice and author John Marsden was asked by the show secretary to read The Last Parade three times during the day, with a bugler from the Melbourne symphony orchestra setting the scene. All we needed was a small rider (who fitted the uniform we had) to ride Pearl. Yep, random pony club child approached the day before, all of us trusting Pearl to do the right thing.

Which of course she did! It was a truly magic moment watching them ride off together. We were all very cautious until we could see them being able to work as a team. Beautiful.

Yes. the competition was limited but the show goers were keen to meet the Walers and learn about them. The horses were a great drawcard for the show and the information tent was well patronized. Such a nice feeling to be told personal stories of our horse history, with the old-fashioned horses on hand for people to meet, just being their best curious selves. So many thanked us for making the effort to bring them. The reading of the poem and bugle playing made for some thoughtful moments as it is one thing to read the poem but quite another to also see the horses while the poem is being read.

Waler display tent at Lancefield Show

The Walers were set their first challenge when lining up for the bugler and poem before the events commenced, the piglets from the animal wrangler arena that was set up next to our ring escaped and charged past us all. The horses were astounded, never having seen a pig before, but they just stood to attention and watched on in amazement while the pigs were rounded up and wrangled back to their yard. Phew!

Trophy for Champion Cob won by Fisher at Lancefield Show

Despite Fisher being rather unruly with my first ride on him in an all-purpose saddle (stock saddle is definitely the go for me), we managed to win champion cob. Yep, he bucked me off. But fair is fair, I had been overseas on business for the three weeks leading up to the show and had not ridden him in an all-purpose saddle before. We got back on track after he had made his point, and really he was a champ to be proud of.

All my ‘friends’ who rode, handled and generally helped at the show said the trophy and Fisher were destined for each other in any case, being similarly built. Hmm. I guess I can’t argue with that.

In the way of the Waler, this show has just kept on giving. Not only did my Walers become visible to the district but a keen amateur photographer, Mike Cook, approached me after reading about us at the show to see if I was open to him visiting and photographing my Walers. Which he has been doing now since 2011 every so often. Many of the beautiful photographs on this website are his, for which I am truly grateful.

Posted by Angela Tiede

Educator and Waler advocate and owner since 2006.