9 Popular Australian Horse Breeds

Australian Horse Breeds

Australian horse breeds have long been a symbol of strength, endurance, and freedom. In fact, they are considered the toughest working horses in the world.

They also adapt to harsh conditions and thrive in extreme temperatures. Australian horses are known for their speed, stamina, and strength.

They are also very versatile animals, able to perform tasks ranging from pulling carts to racing. Each breed has distinct features, such as size, color, temperament, and performance abilities.

Australia has some of the oldest horse breeds in the world. The country also has a rich equestrian heritage.

In fact, the Australian government has declared May 16th as National Horse Day.

Different Types of Australian Horse Breeds

1. Australian Stock Horse

The Australian stock horse is a tough breed that traces back to the first horses to come to Australia.

The breed’s early origins include Cape of Good Hope Horse, Arabian, Welsh Mountain Pony, and Timor Pony.

Australian stock horses have expressive eyes, fine heads, broad foreheads, straight noses, and alert ears. They’re kind-looking and intelligent, with long necks, wide chests, strong legs, well-developed quarters, and tough hooves.

These horses stand between 14 – 16.2 hands tall. Their coats come in different solid colors, although the bay is the most popular.

These breeds are quite known for their athleticism, intelligence, speed, stamina, obedience, and pleasant temperature.

Australian stock horses are suitable for stock work on farms and general riding but are also good in polo and polocrosse, dressage, and pony club events.

In addition, they use them for camp drifting – a popular sport where the competitor cuts one animal from a herd of cattle and works it around the course.

2. Australian Pony

The Australian Pony’s origin traces back to the 18th century before travelers and settlers arrived with nine horses.

Later, in 1803, Timor ponies of Indonesia were imported and are believed to be the foundation stock for these horses.

Several different breeds contributed to the development of the Australian Pony, including the Thoroughbred, Welsh Pony, Hackney Pony, Exmoor Pony, Highland Pony, Connemara Pony, Arabian, and Shetland Pony.

The Australian Pony stands at 11 – 14, hands tall, and weighs about 600 pounds. They have large dark eyes, a slightly concave head, alert ears, a well-set neck, a deep chest, and a round barrel.

Also, they have short and strong legs, neat and well-shaped hooves, and strong bones devoid of coarseness.

These horses are mostly gray, although they come in other colors like champagne, brown, roan, cremello, white, buckskin, and grullo. They mostly feed on hay and grain.

Australian ponies are comfortable to ride on and well-suited for young people. They’re calm, gentle, and obedient but may possess a sense of pride.

3. Brumby

by Robyn MacRae is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Brumby is among the Australian horse breeds and is commonly found in the Northern Territory, Australian Alps, and Queensland.

They are the descendants of horses that got lost by early European settlers.

In addition, these horses come from a mix of breeds, such as the British Pony, Australian Draft, Irish Draft, Arabian, and Thoroughbred.

A group of brumbies is called a band or mob. Moreover, these horses have no known predators – this contributes to their widespread population in Australia.

In Australia, people use brumbies for meat, hair, recreation, and tourism. These horses also make water available by pawing at sandy creekbeds, providing water for wildlife and themselves.

4. Waler

The Waler has a similar heritage to the Australian Stock horse. They result from breeding Timor ponies, 

Arabians, Cape horses, Thoroughbreds, and native British ponies. Walers stand at about 16 hands tall, while their weight varies between populations.

Their physical features and conformations also vary, with some showing the draft influence features while others are showing the desert horse.

Walers can serve as a workhorse, show, riding, military, and sports horses. Furthermore, people use them for jumping, eventing, and dressage.

Above all, they’re multi-talented, easily trainable, and have excellent gaits ideal for Calvary mount.

5. Australian Riding Pony

Among the Australian horse breeds are the Australian riding ponies. This horse results from the selective crossing of British riding pony bloodlines and Arabian and Thoroughbred horses.

Coupled with its elegance and grace, this horse became popular after appearing at several royal shows in the 1980s.

Australian riding ponies stand at 12.2 – 14.2 hands tall and weigh about 606 pounds. They have a flat forehead, long and slightly crested neck, strong back and legs, and neat and strong hooves.

Also, they come in three solid colors: black, brown, and grey.

Furthermore, their general diet includes grains, hay, and grass. They are generally healthy with no known breed-specific issues.

Australian riding ponies are docile, intelligent, alert, sensible, and even-tempered. People use them in horse shows, mounted games, dressage, gymkhana, and combined driving.

Above all, this horse breed is multi-talented and good for children and young adults.

6. Australian Draught

Australian Draught horse is the result of cross-breeding four main draught horse breeds: the Percheron, Clydesdale, Suffolk Punch, and the Shire.

The characteristics of these breeds are widely present in this horse; this is obvious from the many colors and types within the species.

Australian Draught horses have a strong and hardy physique with an average size head.

They have clear eyes, medium-length neck, well-muscled shoulders, wide hips and hindquarters, and well-developed crests.

In addition, these horses stand at 16 – 17.2 hands tall and weigh 1320 – 1980 pounds. They come in different colors, such as gray, roan, brown, black, and white. They’re healthy with no breed-specific diseases.

Furthermore, these animals are spirited, friendly, and even-tempered. People use them in pleasure riding, general riding, and work.

They can also serve as show horses, agriculture horses, riding horses, and working horses. Their general diet includes grass, grains, and hay.

7. Coffin Bay Pony

Among the different types of Australian horse breeds are the Coffin Bay Ponies. It is a semi-feral horse breed indigenous to the Coffin Bay region of Australia.

They trace back to 1839 when Captain Hawson brought over 60 Timor ponies from Indonesia. In addition, these horses stand at about 14.2 hands tall.

They have short legs, strong hooves and bones, and good hindquarters. You can find them in gray, roan, dun red, chestnut, brown, and bay with white markings on the face and legs.

Coffin Bay ponies are kind and intelligent. They’re friendly, manageable, and well-suited for kids. People use them for driving and riding and have no breed-related health issues.

8. Shetland Pony

Shetland Pony
by Marie Hale is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Shetland ponies have a compact body and stand at 10.5 hands. Their weight depends on their height, but it’s generally around 400 – 500 pounds.

They have short legs, a broad head, a thick neck, and a lush mane and tail.

Shetland ponies are almost in every color, including pinto combinations. Their most common colors include gray, bay, roan, palomino, dun, buckskin, brown champagne, chestnut, and black – with markings on the face and leg.

Moreover, shetlands can survive on little food because they developed in harsh conditions and had to search for nutrition.

You shouldn’t feed them grains and concentrates as this may lead to obesity. However, good-quality grass hay is perfect for them.

Shetland ponies are strong, intelligent, and good with children, although they can be stubborn sometimes. They’re easy to care for and do well in cold and rugged climates.

Above all, they’re good for riders of all experience levels, including families with children.

9. Clydesdale

by eflon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This list of Australian horse breeds won’t be complete without mentioning Clydesdale horses. They’re among the tallest horse breeds, standing between 16 and 18 hands. 

These horses have a massive weight of 1600 pounds, which matches their imposing height. However, their stallions often stand taller and weigh more than the mares.

Clydesdales are often bay in color, though they can also be chestnut, gray, or black. Their coats are solid and usually have roan markings or spots.

They often have bald facial markings or wide white blazes, resulting in flashy, eye-catching combinations.

In addition, these horses have a high-stepping trot and walk, which gives them a proud, impressive presentation. They’re calm, intelligent, and easy to train.


There you have it – 9 different Australian horse breeds, although you can still find other horse breeds in the country.

People use them for ranching and transport, but the most common uses for these breeds are for pleasure, teaching, riding, and competitive eventing.

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