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annually to be sold at any price; some pains should be taken with the more promising colts. Many a lot of good horses are ruined by one bad stallion allowed to grow up with them. The superiority of the English horse is much owing to the general practice of castration.
Half the Australian horses are starved at one time or another during their colthood by the occurrence of a dry season, and hence they grow up undersized, ragged, ill-shaped. Those who wish to have superior horse stock should take the trouble to put into the ground a quantity of oats, barley, and maize to be stored for such contingencies. Where the land is good the expense of raising a few hundred quarters of grain will be trifling, for six hundred bushels of barley have been obtained from thirty acres, by merely ploughing in the seed and then treading down with a flock of sheep. The Australian horses are often fed on maize, which is easy to cultivate and to store.
Most Australian horses are badly broken ; indeed, they are not broken at all, but only bullied into a semi-savage state, ill to mount, kicking, rearing, and buck-jumping when mounted. If it is determined to breed horses, it is as well to feed them and breed them carefully. Horses are as fond of salt as cattle, and it may be used as one mode of taming them. A really fine, well-broken lot of animals will always fetch a fair price in the ports, and are now likely to be more valuable than ever ; but, as a general rule, a dozen good mares will be as much as most small settlers' will find profitable ; and a dozen good, well-bred, well-fed, well-broken colts will pay better than a hundred of the brutes which are sold under the hammer for £3 a piece, and not cheap then. Yet Australia, with its fine, dry climate and high class of pastures, affords as good breeding-ground as any in the world. Horses were quoted at auctions in Sydney at £3 unbroken to £25 for superior animals in 1851, before the discovery of the “diggings."
The powers of endurance of the Australian horse are very extraordinary. A relative of the author has ridden 150 miles in two days, and brought his horse in fresh, and on another occasion 350 miles in ten days.
It must be observed that, although the colonial horse is nearly, if not quite, as swift as the European racer on the turf, these long journeys are usually performed at a foot pace, walking about five miles an hour from sunrise until towards noon, then baiting at a hut or camping down for a couple of hours, and then making play again at the same steady pace until sunset, when, if unable to make a station, the traveller fastens his nag's forelegs together with “hobbles," which he carries with him strapped to his saddle, alongside his blanket, tea, flour-bags, and quart
pot, and turns him out to pick up his living until morning, and so pursues his journey from day to day, without needing corn or grooming. But on these journeys both horses and oxen give a great deal of trouble occasionally by wandering back to their old quarters.
A really good horse is one of the indispensable luxuries of bush life, which every man can have if he likes. A shepherd who is a good judge, or has a friend to choose for him, will often invest part of his savings in a blood mare, which his master ought not to object to being fed on his run, although he might prohibit sheep. This mare the shepherd finds convenient for riding anywhere on his own business, while she brings him an annual foal, and these foals, when got by a good sire, often turn out extremely valuable; for, being handled and ridden by the shepherd's children from a very early age, they become good-tempered and docile. It is a good plan to get a nice hack into trim previous to visiting the port of your district. The sale may pay all
your travelling expenses. It is very much the custom in Australia for friends and patrons to give young children presents of stock, such as ewes, heifers, and mares. These, growing up and increasing, being fed on the share system, often amount to a very respectable marriage portion for a young lass. In this way a small settler's daughter will sometimes have half a dozen mares. All ages
and both sexes in the bush are great on horseback. You may meet a father who was a labourer in England riding to church on Sundays a distance of twenty miles, carrying the baby before him to be christened, and followed or surrounded by boys and girls from six years old and upwards, mounted on their own long-tailed colts. There is a great difference between stumbling tired along a road on foot and riding a good horse ; and this is one of the differences which the frugal working man experiences in Australia.
There is something very romantic in the appearance of a troop of mares, headed by the snorting, thick-maned, master stallion, who has beaten off all competitors, as they wheel, start, gallop, and pause to stare on the brow of a hill; and many a youthful heart beats high at the idea of a gallop striding on a blood horse across the undulating plains of Australia, cheering on the hounds, pursuing the bounding forester or flying doe, or trying the best blood of the colony against. an emu, that might well contend against the sons of old Eclipse, or rattling down steep rocky ranges after a troop of horses as wild as ever careered round the naked Mazeppa ; but, to own the honest truth, without the pressure produced by res angusta domi—without the charms of locality incident to family ties, a wife and colonial-born children,
and the feeling that you and yours are doing something towards “conquering, subduing, and civilizing" an important portion of God's earth— these Australian sports are a poor substitute for the luxuries of civilized Europe; and one hour with the Heythrop or “Beaufort," Pytchley or Cheshire, is worth all the kangaroo or emu hunting that ever took place since the discovery of the colony.
But then, again, there is a difference. We who are born horsemen all know that there is an abstract pleasure in riding a fine horse, whether at full speed or a foot pace, whether in a desert or in a field of two hundred pink coats: there is something indescribably delicious in the pulse-exciting motion. How many a man who must walk in England can afford to ride a three-hundred guinea hack in Australia ; and the love of pace, that makes a man a rare stockman in the colony, may carry him, if ill-estated, in England, straight to the insolvent court.
In Gipps's Land, and some of the mountain districts of New South Wales, there are small mobs of horses as wild as any in the Ukraine or South America.
The recommendation not to import European merinos equally applies to stallions and short-horn bulls. Such speculations should be left to old colonists, who know how and where to place them. The colonial papers are full of advertisements of imported and colonial stock horses. Of the latter the Tasmanian, as race horses, are considered the best.
After having thus rapidly touched upon the occupations and cares of a bush life, it may be well to proceed to give a description of the colonies in which these pursuits are followed with little variation.