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In body and spirit

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story

In body and spirit

Veterinary surgeon Ann Flashman and assistants attend to a sick horse at the Dogs' Home and Animal Hospital, North Melbourne, 1936.
Veterinary surgeon Ann Flashman and assistants attend to a sick horse at the Dogs' Home and Animal Hospital, North Melbourne, 1936. National Museum of Australia.

From the mid-19th century, Australians' concern for the health and welfare of horses mounted as these animals became more common and integral to people's everyday lives.

Working horses often developed injuries, illnesses and disease, sometimes due to overwork, poor care or cruelty.

Some people aimed to alleviate the physical suffering of horses, in part to keep them labouring. Others were more concerned about the physical and emotional wellbeing of horses, believing they deserved kind treatment and a happy life.

More recently, activists have fostered public debate about horses being involved in activities such as racing, jumping, rodeo and other high-performance sports.

Explore some of the stories and objects

 Solomon Solution poster
Solomon Solution poster

1920s advertisement for a popular liniment.
 Toy horse ‘Jackson’
Toy horse 'Jackson'

A runner in the 2007 Birdsville 'races'.
 Can of ‘Horsielicious’
Can of 'Horsielicious'

Part of a protest against the racing industry’s treatment of retired racehorses.