The Brumby, A Rugged Horse Breed Made In Australia

Wild and Free Brumby Horses in the Australian High Country. Australian Bush scenes pre-snow season.

Australia’s first horses arrived on the continent in 1788. These tough horses survived the arduous journey and went on to thrive in Australia’s harsh conditions, their descendants are the famed   ‘Brumby’ horses we know today. The name Brumby for Australian feral horses is thought to have been derived from a James Brumby born in Scotton, Lincolnshire who arrived on the Britannia in 1791. James Brumby was a soldier with the New South Wales Corps, and also a farrier whose horses roamed freely in the bush around his holdings in New South Wales after he shipped off for Tasmania in 1804. Brumby populations followed along with Australia’s explorers and farmers and played an important role in the taming of this wild land. Some of the Brumby horses escaped, were lost and abandoned, and even wandered free after their riders died, unable to survive the harsh conditions the Brumbies felt so at home in.

Over time as more horses were shipped in the Brumby breed was infused with a wide range of influences, from Thoroughbreds imported for racing, to working Clydesdales, and even such exotic types as the Timor Pony and horses of Arabian origin. For those modern horse owners who wish to add some Brumby into their personal stock ICSI horse breeding can help out with their highly advanced IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injections. There’s no doubt that some Brumby blood can add strength and vigour to any offspring!

The many physical types that developed into this rugged breed ensured the Brumbies popularity as war horses during World War I and II as well as the Boer War, as police mounts, and as sturdy workhorses during the gold rush. After the war the need for horses diminished and the scant number and quality of fences, and infrequent musters, meant that many horses escaped. Some horses were also abandoned as machinery took over many of their tasks. The horses became feral as they were left to fend for themselves. Natural selection took over, and the Brumbies became even more well-adapted to their environment, hardy, agile, and intelligent, with keen senses. Because of these traits, they are the ‘go-to’ horse for outback trail rides. Their wide range gave rise to several Brumby types so different from each other that they are now classified as separate breeds, such as the Pangaré Pony and the Coffin Bay Pony.

There is much controversy surrounding the continued existence of the wild feral herds which of course, are not one of Australia’s often endangered native creatures. Despite this, the Brumby’s place in the hearts of Australians has only grown stronger in the 21st century, with events like the Australian Brumby Challenge, Brumby Week, the Man from Snowy River Bush Festival celebrating Brumbies as both a unique part of Aussie culture and a wonderful breed to own and ride.

The wild Australian Brumby is a unique equine, a tough survivor roaming through rugged bushland and the hostile outback, epitomising the spirit of freedom that all Australians proudly hold.