The average bush worker of the nineteenth century was generally a shy personality. Men learnt to mind their own business. It was safer that way. Silence was the golden rule and passing travellers were hardly ever asked where they had been, this could imply some dark history, maybe even the ‘convict stain’, so far better to enquire where they were headed. If they talked it was usually about horses or dogs for both animals were held in the deepest of respect and affection. They were the real ‘mates’ and many the boundary rider had maintained sanity by conducting long campfire conversations with his dog.
There are so many classic poems about horses starting with Banjo Paterson’s epic Man From Snowy River with its graphic ride down the mountain that sent the flint stones flying. Reciters have always loved this poem as they take their audience into the saddle. Other great favourites included ‘The Mailman’s Ride’ ‘How We Beat The Favourite’, ‘The Black Warrigal Horse’, ‘The Stockdriver’s Ride’, ‘The Caulfield Cup’, ‘Flash Jack Nolan’s Ride’, ‘How A Roughrider Died’, ‘How The Sailor Rode The Brumby’, ‘Carbine’, ‘The Little Worn Out Pony’ – to name only a few.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to the horse in our history and most bush people acknowledge this fact.