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About the exhibition

Jessyca Dakin with her horse.
Jessyca Dakin with her horse during the 2013 Tom Quilty Cup endurance race, Kilkivan, Queensland. Photo: Jason McCarthy.

Australians have lived with, loved and depended on horses since Europeans first settled on the continent. These beautiful animals have been trusted companions, partners in the thrill of the chase, reliable workers, and a source of pleasure, freedom and adventure for thousands of people.

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story explores how horses have helped to enrich our lives, built our society and shaped our environment. It invites Australians to reflect on the enduring and sometimes complex relationships between people and horses.

Video preview


Spirited includes exhibits on:

  • the horse’s importance on sheep and cattle properties in Australia
  • the history of feral horses in Australia
  • the important role horses have played in moving people and goods across the continent
  • how people have tried to understand and communicate with horses
  • the history and popularity of a wide range of horse sports and competitions
  • how towns across Australia were shaped by the work and needs of horses
  • the history of horse racing in Australia.
Binoculars, saddle, stirrups and stirrup leather, and swagger sticks.
Binoculars, saddle, stirrups and stirrup leather, and swagger sticks belonging to Lieutenant Colonel Watchorn, about 1901. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Jason McCarthy.

Special digital features

Film, sound and sculptural elements bring the majesty and character of horses into the exhibition space, with specially produced digital features exploring horse breeds in Australia and your pony club stories.

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