Horses of War

There was quite a difference between the mounted infantry horse and the cavalry horse.

The mounted infantry soldier dismounted to fight, but the cavalry man was destined to fight off the back of his horse. The latter depended on the docility, speed, courage and athletic ability of his mount, while the mounted infantryman used his horse used as a means of transport from one point to another, for example, camp to battle ground.

The infantry mounts may have missed out on being cavalry horses because of poor breaking in or soundness.

Australian horses bought in their thousands at the cheap price of 12 pounds per head compared more than favourably with those from other countries in all aspects.

Banjo Paterson with his typically honest flair, describes in his writings the other cheap horse, the Argentinian.

“Thousands of these Argentinians were sent over, and they were an interesting study to the student of horseflesh. They were squat, short legged cobs with big hips and bad shoulders, and heads like the painting of Bucephalus, ridden by Alexander the Great.

Probably they were bred from Bucephalus, as one fails to guess by which intermixture of strains of blood the type was arrived at. It is certainly a fixed type now, as of the thousands sent over at least ninety percent resembled each other so closely that if one lost an Argentinian pony, there was little chance of identifying him among his comrades.

They were worthless cow hearted brutes, and no-one that used them ever had a good word to say for them. They may have been good horses in the Argentine but none of them found their way to the war.

The Australians on the contrary, were light and wiry and active, and there was no comparison between the two types of animals.”