Possibly the most versatile breed of horse, the Australian Stock Horse (ASH) is a fine working and performance animal renowned for its toughness, resilience and strength. Add to this agility and speed and you have a horse with a cosmopolitan blend of attributes ideally suited for work or play. Hence the slogan - The Breed for Every Need. The ancestry of the ASH dates to the arrival of the first horses in Australia; brought from Europe, Africa and Asia. Some of the original horse breeds in these early imports included the Thoroughbred, Cape of Good Hope Horse (largely descended from the Barb and Spanish horse), Arabian, Timor Pony and Welsh Mountain pony. In the 1830s, additional Thoroughbreds were imported into Australia to improve the local strains, and the mid-20th century saw infusions from the American Quarter Horse.
Australian Stock Horses are used for general riding and stock work on rural properties as well as equestrian competitions. The Australian Stock horse has a quiet temperament, athleticism and intelligence - key prerequisites of high performance sport horses and many stock horses have achieved outstanding success in a wide variety of sports, including campdrafting, polocrosse, polo, show jumping, dressage, eventing, team penning, adult riding club and pony club events as well as showing. Because of their versatility, many horses achieve success at more than one of these sports as well as being a work horse during their lifetime.
The truly Australian sport of Campdrafting requires agility, intelligence and strength of both horse and rider. The horse must have speed and cattle sense when a competitor selects a beast from the yard or camp and separates it from the herd, cutting it out and working the beast around a course.
In June 1971 the Australian Stock Horse Society was formed to formally recognize the breed. The horses were selected on conformation, ability and breeding. In the last decade the Society has experienced unprecedented growth as the demand for the Australian Stock Horses and recognition of their many attributes has increased. Today the Society is Australia's largest equine recreational and pleasure association, with a loyal and growing membership of more than 9,500 individuals and in excess of 180,000 registered horses in the Stud Book.
The breed has not only been recognized throughout Australia but through exports to the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Africa. Select Breeders Services has been the fore runner in distributing frozen semen from the Australian Stock Horse to the rest of the world.
Additional stallions selected to have semen frozen for export include Soda Justice (Warrenbri Romeo x Nabinabah Twinkle), Bonlac Gigolo (Blue Moon Mystic x Estcourt) and Gamberlee Jaguar (Dogwood Comet x Roseridge Indi Anna). Export shipments are planned for these stallions soon.
Photos: Soda Justice (top), Warrenbri Cooper (above right), Bonlac Gigolo (left).