Prepared from information supplied by Save the Brumbies
The brumby is an Australian icon and is recognised as a part of Australian folklore. The brumby has been romanticised in poetry, featured in Australian television shows, written about in novels and made an appearance at the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The name 'brumby' is thought to have several different origins. These include the theory that it may have developed from 'baroomby' meaning 'wild horse' in the Pitjara Aboriginal language. Another suggests it may have come from James Brumby, an early settler, who let his horses roam free across vast tracts of unfenced land and breed unmonitored.
Brumbies can trace their genetic lineage to a number of different breeds including Thoroughbred, Arabian, Clydesdales and other draught horses. Brumbies are known to have sturdy hooves, well-developed senses and a high level of intelligence.
Brumbies are mostly wild horses that range freely in a number of areas, with the largest populations in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, where there is more undeveloped land and fewer people.
Hardy and versatile horses with a good temperament, brumbies have been used for a number of different purposes. During the Boer War and the First and Second world wars, brumbies were sent overseas and used as cavalry mounts. They have also been used as police horses and stockhorses. Brumbies were also used to develop the Waler and Australian Stock Horse bloodlines. The number of brumbies under private ownership is steadily increasing.
There has recently been controversy surrounding the treatment and control of growing brumby populations in areas such as national parks. Many associations and horse sanctuaries have been established to care for brumby populations and the Australian Brumby Horse Register was started in 2004 to help preserve the heritage of the brumby in Australia.