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At the turn of the 19th century, tens of thousands of horses lived and worked in Australia’s cities. An estimated 20,000 horses were stabled in Melbourne in the 1880s, and in the same period Sydney’s horse population supported over 50 livery stables, more than 100 saddlers and coachbuilders and over 200 carriage and buggy proprietors.
Horses hauled goods between shops, homes, factories and docks, pulled cabs, omnibuses and private vehicles, and helped with construction projects.
They also provided humans with leisure and entertainment.
Hundreds of businesses sustained the horses’ work and, as their numbers grew, civic authorities found ways to regulate their use – and clean up after them.