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The Australian Brumby
 By Winniefield Park   •   21st Apr 2016   •   4,647 views   •   2 comments
The Australian Brumby

Those of us who live in North America sometimes neglect that there are other feral horses whose management brings about the same contentious issues as we see in Canada and America. Just like Mustangs, many, including some Governmental and environmental agencies see the Brumbies of Australia as an invasive species that threatens to damage native ecosystems. Others of course, see them as a symbol of Australia’s history and culture and work for their preservation.

The origins of the word Brumby is not clear. Some think it was someone’s last name. Others believe it is a derivative of native Aboriginal words for horse or wild, and yet others believe it to be a derivative of a place name, like Appaloosa, as many people believe, is a derivative of “A Poulse River” horse. Whatever the origins of the name, the ancestors of the Brumbies are late comers to Australia's compared to those of the feral horses of the Americas. The Save The Brumbies site claims that the first horses arrived in Australia in 1788. The horse returned to North America in 1519, and by the late 1600s there were already thousands of Mustangs. By the time horses reached Australia, there were already heated battles between the feral Mustang herds and the ranchers who wanted the rangelands for their cattle.

Related: The BLM and Mustang Population Control
Related: Euthanization Imminent for Wild Mustang Herds in Western Utah

While many Mustangs trace their lineage back to Spanish breeds, Brumbies are of mix of more common riding and work horses. Many are descendants of Thoroughbreds, Draft Horse Breeds and Arabians. Some may have the ponies of neighboring Timor in their bloodlines as well as native British pony breeds. One type of Brumby, the Pangaré Brumby, carry the gene for a specific coat color distinctive to British and Timor Ponies and some draft horse breeds. These ponies live in an ocean-side ecosystem and survive on eating a shrubby plant that survives in dry environments called saltbush. Other brumbies live in mountainous regions and open plains. Brumbies are distributed in areas of Northern and Central Australia, with isolated herds in the southern-most regions.

Calls for culls happen for several reasons. The feral horses and ponies compete with native animals for forage. Their hooves can damage delicate ecosystems such as marsh areas that grow a certain type of sphagnum moss not only valued for its role in natural water purification, but is home to several endangered animal species. And, occasionally a brumby and human will clash, as can happen when a motorcycle or other vehicle crashes into either a living or dead brumby. Arguably, many native species could cause similar accidents.

And of course, ranchers see Brumbies as competing for cattle and sheep forage. They damage fencing, foul watering places may breed with domestic horses, and are blamed for carrying diseases because they are not vaccinated and cared for like our backyard horses. And, they are in danger of starvation in some cases, becoming stranded in mountainous regions due to unpredictable weather.

Austrialia’s Aboriginal people, unlike those in North America have no deep connection with the horse. In fact, the horse for some may be a symbol of displacement as their homelands were overtaken by white settlers.

Just as with the Mustang, authorities are seeking ways to manage the Brumby mobs. One effective, but highly controversial method has been to simply shoot them. Trapping is ongoing, but with less than satisfactory results and in the end they are often ‘re-homed’ to slaughter houses. This of course has met with fierce opposition by animal activists. Mustering them and shipping them for meat has also been effective and profitable. Mustering on the ground, or by helicopter for any purpose is met with opposition and the traditional method of riders simply going out, ‘Man from Snowy River’ style to round Brumbies has been banned. Of course, ariel slaughter has met with extreme criticism. And, while they can be trained and used as pleasure horses, there simply isn’t enough demand for the horses.

Currently, unlike the Mustang, Brumbies are not entitled to any governmental protection or preservation. Groups like Save the Brumbies are working to protect these feral horses and have them recognized as an important part of Australian heritage.
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
Valkyrie   MOD 
There's a new competition being held with Brumbies that's sort of like the Mustang Makeover or the New Zealand Kaimanawa Stallion Challenge. I think it's being held this year, but I can't remember the name of it.

A lot of riders, especially farm hands, won't break or train Brumbies because they reckon they're too tough and wild and better off as dogmeat. But hopefully this will help prove they're not.
  Apr 21, 2016  •  5,005 views
 
Winniefield Park  
That's good news. There's no reason why that can't find useful purpose. The pictures I've seen online, I've liked what I see--more so than North American mustangs.
  Apr 26, 2016  •  4,968 views
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