Thursday, 9 April 2015

Walers to the Dutch East Indies 1816 - 1939. Indonesia 1945 - 1980's

KNIL cavalry on their Walers
Image - TropenMuseum, photo taken 1910-1940


Ancient temples, trance dances, Sumatran mouse deer that cleverly fool authority...

The Dutch East Indies is now Indonesia. It was the Dutch East Indies in our horse trade days.

The Netherlands (Holland) is but a few hundred years old; the Indies a few million. A lot of horse magic is woven into your culture and very being when you've kept horses that long. Each island has its horse types. They ride like gods. Magic is practised on many islands.

After Indonesia got its independence, they too bought horses from us, a small but good trade with great horse people whose ponies we had bought in the past to develop the Waler. These sales to Indonesia were/are chiefly for a cavalry unit on Java and for private people.

... and the mouse deer is an old folktale in which this small, seemingly powerless animal has ingenious ways of outwitting powerful authorities, ultimately getting its own way...

Island ponies and horses were used by the Dutch - Javanese ponies and bigger ones from Sulawasi, as well as getting them directly from Australia. 

Ponies from the Lesser Sundas were used towards the end of the eighteenth century, by which time the Dutch had gained all shipping rights - Arabs had until then been the chief traders in those areas. The Arab traders had trading posts throughout Indonesia and even had horse stalls attached to their house on Sumba - they bought many ponies, which were a valuable trading commodity for lush horse raising islands. Waler horses and ponies were bought by the Dutch from 1816.

The Lesser Sundas consists of islands such as Sumba, Sumbawa, Lombok, Timor, Flores, Bali etc. Flores was bought from the Portuguese in 1851, the Dutch paying 200,000 florins. A condition of the sale was that religious tolerance must be observed as the local kingdoms comprised Catholics, Muslims and animist beliefs, all living in harmony.

Lesser Sunda Islands...

The cavalry in 1902 decided to go over to bigger horses for various reasons, being exclusively mounted on Walers by 1907. At that stage the cavalry at Batavia consisted of about 700 mounted soldiers. In 1884 1,300 horses were in use by the army according to the book Breeds of Empire.

Mountain Battery 

The cavalry, usually up to 1,000 remounts, was based in four main garrisons on Java at Bantung, Batavia, Salatiga and Malang. There were other units mostly for ceremonial uses at Soerakarta and Yogyakarta.

The Mountain Battery often had more ponies than horses, and usually kept a total of about 600. More horses and ponies were needed as baggage carriers for infantry - a battalion needed 110 horses to carry their loads.

In 1916 it was estimated KNIL had a total of 2,973 horses, and a further 80 horses with the Dragoons of the Body-Guard, a European outfit placed with the Sultans Djokjakarta and Soerakata. A British War Department document 1919 has the latter info., and that the army bought many Chinese ponies, as well as native ponies and Australian horses. Elephants were bought for baggage carrying.



A Veterinary Corps attached to the Royal Netherlands Indian Army was under the direction of cavalry officers, but after 1845 they steadily gained autonomy until by 1921 they were an independent unit in the War Department. This was better as they could carry out inspections when they wanted.

 Sophisticated horse hospital, city of Bogor (Buitenzorg in Dutch), west Java, circa 1912-13. Source - Tropenmuseum.

There had been 3 horse vets in 1830, by 1921 there were 12, and they also had good horse hospitals and up to 70 horse nursing staff in each. The military vets were also keen members of the Veterinary Association of the Netherlands East Indies, created in 1885. They gave horse shoeing demonstrations and added to the knowledge and treatment of horse diseases, plus helped select the right fodder and new remounts - sometimes travelling to Australia for this. Australian horses were liked as they were purpose bred for the military, had outstanding trustworthy temperaments, were very hardy  - and importantly - were disease free; being malleus free particularly, was a winner for the Indies when purchasing horses. info re vets here

Vet Dr. K. T. de Boer liked Australian horses. He recommended them and bought many himself. He raced Australian horses in the Malay states and East Indies, and he came to Australia in 1934 for a holiday and to buy more

photo: General Pieter Scholten and adjutant, circa 1941 (WW2). Scholten was based in Solo (also called Surakarta), Java. source

Wealthy people of Java also bought Walers for riding and carriage horses, Thoroughbreds for racing. Mostly stallions and mares were bought, it was said the Dutch cavalry would not ride geldings, but probably many of these horses were intended for breeding than cavalry. 

Considering the Indies bought a lot of horses, yet the cavalry was often on local ponies, one wonders if the Australian horses were also shipped to Holland for breeding. The amounts of horses being bought for military purposes supplied the East Indies army throughout the islands, e.g. Sumatra too - hence the large numbers. In one shipload in 1913, we sent 999 artillery horses over for example. 

The genes of the horses we sold to the Dutch would be in some Indonesian ponies today, just as Indonesian ponies contributed genes to Australian horses. Ironically, we shipped many ponies to the Dutch army too, as ordered - some shipments had more ponies than horses. These were large ponies around 13.2 to 14.2 and a bit heavier than the original Indies ponies that went into their breeding (Australia also imported hefty native British ponies such as Welsh cobs, Fells etc for breeding). 

We had imported several Flemish (Dutch) draughts in our colonial days to put into military horse breeding (Walers) so it's possible some of that blood went to the Indies too. 

Java pony and carriage

In WW1 Australia only officially supplied Japan and India with horses, other countries could only have those under 14.2 hands - that suited the Indies, although they did request full sized horses too. It appears some orders for bigger horses for the Indies were filled.

The Dutch were good riders, their cavalry classically trained. They never bought second rate horses from us, known for the quality of horses in Holland too. Holland after all, is the home of the Friesian -  like an artillery Waler... hmm!

photo circa 1931, Roelof Theodorus Overakker. 

A keen rider and career soldier (eventually attaining Lt-Colonel), Overakker  had postings in Java, Sumatra and Flores (for Timor administration). Posted back to the Netherlands, he tried to raise interest in the defense of the Indies as WW2 approached. He was back in the Indies for the war. He fought fiercely, in Sumatra. When the Dutch surrendered to the Japanese he and his men were sent to POW camps, as a high ranking officer he was sent to an officer POW camp on Formosa (Taiwan). He survived the warsource

The Dutch bought a conservative 100,000 horses over the 125 year trade, from all states, chiefly Queensland and NSW but their agents were also keen bidders at Kidman's big Kapunda horse sales in South Australia and the Dutch said, rightly, the best artillery horses came from Central Australia.

Racing was also popular and racehorses or horses suited to racing sent over, for example in 1933 10 hacks were sent to the Deli Race Club on Sumatra.

Batavia (now Jakarta) sits at the western end of the long island of Java. There are over 17,000 islands in the area. The Spice Islands referred to the Moloccas - the islands between West Papua and Sulawesi - where the Dutch started out, taking them from the Portuguese. The Spice Islands however, often meant the Dutch East Indies.

pink areas were the Dutch East Indies 

A strong army was needed in the East Indies to keep and expand territory. When this army morphed into KNIL, its cavalry kept using Walers as well as local ponies and crosses of the two. It was a good trade for Australia, and best of all, consistent; vitally, to another friendly colony in the region. About 1,000 horses and ponies a year for several decades went to the Dutch East Indies, sometimes more - in 1930 for example 1,300 horses had been shipped by April, on the ships Van Spilbergen and Tasman. Australia in turn bought countless ponies from Java, Timor and the islands in our colonial days.


Promenading and riding on Waterlooplein, the area in front of the Governor General's palace in Batavia. The palace was built by the Governor General Daendels.

Etymology of the area

Then ..................................Now
Dutch East Indies, Netherlands East India, Far East ..................... Indonesia
Solo.............................................Solo, Surakarta
Moloccas, Spice Islands ............. Maluku Islands
Sandalwood Island..................Sumba Island

Borneo, Kalimantan......    .....Borneo, Malaysia, Brunei
North Borneo, Sarawak...............Malaysia
Netherlands New Guinea, Irian Jaya........Papua, West Papua
Netherlands............    Netherlands, Holland

Ports Australian horses were landed at
Batavia, Surabaya, Cheribon, Java
Menado, Sulawesi
Denpassar, Bali
Sabang, Medan, Palembang, Riau, Sumatra

Areas of the Dutch East India Company
light green - Dutch East Indies
 dark Green - Dutch West Indies.
Until the Suez canal was built in 1869, trade routes went around Africa from the East Indies, to Europe.

VOCVereenigde Oostindische Compagnie.......... United East India Company, Dutch East Indies Company, 1602-1799 - ended due to corruption, territories becoming Dutch East Indies, governed from Batavia, and expanded.

KNILKoninklijk Nederlandsch Indisch Leger...... Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, Dutch India Army, 1830-1942 1945-1950.

When Java was invaded by the Dutch it was several Sultanates/Kingdoms, with various succession options. One area remained a Sultanate under the Dutch, the Sultan was allowed to keep his area around Yogyakarta for fear of uprisings should he be removed, and some other Princes/Sultans somehow battled through. The Sultans too bought Australian horses and were excellent customers. They kept most of their Royal area of the Keraton in Yogyakarta open to all (as it is today, also spelled Kraton), attended by lavishly uniformed guards and were extremely hospitable to visiting Australian dignatories, entertaining with much pomp and ceremony and taking them about in a beautiful Royal carriage pulled by eight strong Walers, usually greys. A fabulous collection of the Royal carriages and coach are still kept safely at the palace. There are many other sultanate palaces, as well as spectacular temples throughout Java.

This is the Royal coach that was pulled by eight Walers. It's at the Keraton, Yogyakarta, Java, with many other Royal carriages. It was built in the Netherlanda in 1867. 
photo source

 Royal coach pulled by eight black Walers
photo source this blog
In 1934, Mr Latham, Australia's Attorney-General, went on an Australian  government mission to Java and was "treated like the Arabian nights in oriental splendour" by the Sultan, his coach being drawn by eight black Walers. He was also wonderfully received by the Dutch in Batavia. (story of his mission in The Argus, 10th April 1934).

Royal carriage from the Keraton in rehearsal for a 2011 Royal wedding, in which many horse drawn carriages and the coach were used. Kerata is the word for carriage. In Solo many beautiful carriages are still in use.

Horse drawn carriages and coaches, with coachmen, postilions and grooms in livery, are used for special occasions, which are not infrequent. 
When Joko Widodo got elected, he was conveyed through cheering crowds in an open horse drawn carriage (can't find a photo without copyright sorry but plenty online), this is about pomp and ceremony, but is also indicative of the deep relationship of islanders and the horse; symbolic of firm ties to tradition and respect. The horse is important to all sections of society. 

Royalty tend to like these displays too, and everyone loves a circus. England, many countries love the pomp of special occasions featuring horses. Photo from TribunNews.

oh look - Sumatra Mouse Deer - how timely, funny that!
from W Marden's A History of Sumatra.

Java was annexed by the Dutch in 1619 although total dominance took a little longer. They used slave labor but did not want Javanese slaves in case they rebelled; the history is the usual callous colonialism. Malays, Chinese and various ethnicities were brought in by the tens of thousands (eventually several million) and made up slave labour, with a few Javanese later included. Hence many nationalities became part of the Indies - as slaves, settlers, artisans, traders and workers.  Compounding the tragedy of slavery, the Dutch took tens of thousands of Africans then thousands of Javanese, Chinese and others to the West Indies as slaves. Slavery was not abolished in Suriname, a South American colony, until 1863 - when a form of exploitative indentured work took its place. Few if any of these people got back home again.

VOC East Indiamen 'Amsterdam' above and 'Prins Willem', below. 
Source: Wiki

The city of Bantam on Java was a great trading centre where people from all over the world traded silver, silk, hand woven fabrics, spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger and especially huge quantities of pepper; fruit, fish, birds, rice, coconuts, jewellery, swords, knives - all sort of goods. Many Javanese had small farms. They were excellent and brave warriors, well disciplined, becoming part of the backbone of the Dutch armies. 

Bantam (Banten) is on the Banten River, which smaller craft could navigate from a safe harbour for big ships. The area was a sultanate before Dutch invasion. Strategically placed for sea traffic to and from Java and Sumatra. The British and Dutch had trading posts there from 1603.

photo of zebra doves from Margo's Beautiful Images, online

The Javanese warrior tradition was a proud one. A warrior had: 
a house (Wismo)
a horse (Turonggo)
a bird (Kukilo, the perkutut bird/zebra dove)       
a wife (Wanito) 
a kris/keris (Curigo - long sacred knife). 
All  symbols of his success and ability to protect. The birds sing and bring messages in their songs, and often much good fortune. 

Most Javanese are very spiritual, and see signs on horses - these are like being psychic - perfectly clear sign that tells them how long the horse will live and important information about it. Can't discover if this was something intuitive, or, more likely, as with most horse cultures, meant looking at something like the whorls - which are like fingerprints - no two horses have the same - and having a traditional superstitious meaning for them (for example in old British 'horse magic' two small whorls on a horse's forehead close together means it has a quiet trustworthy temperament, etc etc). Whatever, it shows an ancient horse culture. Horses have a great impact on people's lives, not just as being useful but as spiritual connections, and bring good fortune. Hunting deer and tiger on horseback, with a short sword, had been a sport in the past for those privileged to have a horse too.  

Throughout Dutch occupation, were not just rebellions but certain resistance rebels who earned legendary status. One was the beloved Si Pitung, of the Batavia area. He was a brave Robin Hood style outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. A devout Muslim and also trained in traditional Javanese martial arts, he did not ever harm or kill any person during his years of preying on the colonial oppressors. 

At times the British held territories in the East Indies, notably Java for a short time, Borneo, Sarawak, parts of Sumatra and Malaya. The British East India Company was a powerful trading entity which switched concerns to India and China once the Dutch expanded their interests in the East Indies. Portugal too had trading posts throughout the area for centuries. Studying historical horse movements, the Portuguese are important to the area as they traded horses - particularly from Persia and neighbouring Arab countries. Before them, Arabs and Chinese had traded in peace for centuries with the East Indies.

"Demonstration of horses", photo circa 1930's  - Walers.


Raffles is remembered fondly by many Javanese.  He arrived in 1811 with a fleet and took Java from the Dutch, after brief fighting. This was to secure the area in case the French came - they had taken the Netherlands; Britain too was at war with the French. Raffles (Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles), born on a ship off Jamaica, became Military Governor of Java. For the times, he was an enlightened and kindly man and impatient of racism.

Raffles skilfully negotiated peace with warlike locals, made several trips to the interior exploring, pacifying Princes of disgruntled kingdoms, and wrote two excellent books on Java. 

Shocked by depradations the Dutch had made (the building of one 700 kilometre road for example, cost up to 20,000 lives), he abolished slavery, torture and mutilation. Mutilation-torture-death sessions had been morning shows for the Dutch, every single day.

To maintain stability Raffles kept other Dutch laws and the Dutch made no further resistance. Conditions were tough, tragically Raffles' wife died on the island in 1814. Java was handed back to the Dutch against his will. Raffles set sail for England. He remarried, then sailed to Sumatra, thence to Singapore; his story there is well known. Singapore became another excellent horse market for us.

He returned to England in 1823. When he died in 1826, aged only 44, Sir Raffles was refused burial in his local English church - as the Vicar's family made their fortunes slaving - the English themselves were slavers until 1833. The Vicar resented Raffles' opposition to it. His body was only found in 1914.


At the very beginning, the Dutch merely paid tributes to the Sultan, Mataram, and concentrated on gaining the entire spice trade. The islands were beautifully tended in areas for pastures, palms, fruit, spice and crops before the Dutch arrived, there were extensive forests and highly skilled artisans in weapon making, jewellery and dying and weaving fabrics. In the 1670s the Dutch supported an uprising against the throne in Java, luckily supporting the victor who gave them land which became their new base - Batavia.  They had put together an immensely strong army of local and Dutch soldiers and by the mid eighteenth century controlled Java and were expanding their colony. 

There were various rebellions during those times, one big one when Chinese slaves rebelled. After supporting the Dutch against the rebels, the repressed Javanese changed sides and made an alliance with the Chinese and they both fought the Dutch. Understandably, uprisings were a constant feature of the occupation.

Colonisation is always cruel. The economy was based on immense forces of slave labour. Rebellions and land grabs resulted in brutal retribution. Many times starvation killed thousands, yet the Dutch prospered. Of course, society settled at times and a measure of peace reigned. 

The Wars (in the time of the Waler)...

Padri War 1821- 1845
Java War 1825 - 1830
Uprisings/conquests - Sumatra and others.
Bandjermasin War (Borneo) 1859-63
Celebes uprising 1905
Bali War 1894 - 1908
Aceh (Sumatra) War 1873 - 1914
WW 2 1939 - 1945
Uprisings/conquests - Bali and others.
War of Independence 1945- 1949 (in 2005 Holland formally accepted Indonesia's Independence Day as 17th August 1945).
Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua) war 1945 - 1962.


The Dutch East Indies Company had vast plantations - pepper, tea, coffee, sugar, cacao, coconuts, quinine, oil, spices, bamboo and forests of sandalwood, teak and fine timbers. The Netherlands became a world power with riches gained from the Dutch East Indies. Money was no object when they came to Australia for horses, but they didn't pay top prices. Breeding horses were bought for the Government breeding station at Paseroean (Paseruan) at east Java. Up to 40 stallions were kept on there and mares too, mares were often leased to private people too.

Hussar of the Netherlands East Indies Army 1820-1825. Source:


The Dutch lost Batavia to the Japanese in WW2, who renamed the city Jakarta. In fact they lost the lot - the Japanese occupied all Dutch East Indies territories; the occupation ending in 1945 when WW2 ended. Conflict continued between the Dutch and indigenous people for independence from the Netherlands, which was accomplished in December 1949 when they took the name Indonesia. The next year KNIL was disbanded forever.


Of interest, in 1836 the Dutch bought 3,000 slaves from west Africa (Ghana) for the army, after army service they were freed and stayed in Java. When KNIL (army of the Dutch East Indies) was formed, they could not recruit in Holland, so getting soldiers was difficult. The trade in slaves for soldiers from Africa stopped in 1841, as they tended to riot for fair treatment and the British objected to the Dutch encroaching on their slave trade, despite the African soldiers receiving army pay. The recruitment of African volunteers started up again in 1852 and continued until 1871 when the Gold Coast territory of the Dutch was given to the English under the treaty of Sumatra. 

Soon after this, being short on Europeans for the army and wanting a good representation of them in case of rebellion, they hired Swiss mercenaries who lived up to their notorious reputation, proving unsuitable due to looting and destruction. Some Belgiums and Germans joined next and proved ok - KNIL tended to be 40% European and 60% other races such as Timorese, Malays, Javanese, Chinese, Ambonese, Butanese and indigenous ethnicities. By 1914 this was down to 10% Europeans and few were Dutch. Over a millon Europeans moved to the area during Dutch times, and many more other ethnicities. Artillery gunners were always European but sergeants of all troops were the same nationality as their troop. All races could join the cavalry, the people of the islands being brilliant horsemen.

 showing the deep harbour and waterways so useful for a trading port
the canals were dug by slave labour and the town laid out to emulate Amsterdam.
It is said that every stone of this construction cost a life.

Batavia became a thriving settlement and huge trading centre. As the port was within good sailing distance from Australia - less than 2 weeks - it was a fast trip to deliver goods here and return with horses and wool.  Racing was popular, polo, carriage driving - a demand for all types. The native ponies were good but the rapid expansion of Dutch interests, population, and need for army mobility, meant they bought outside horses not just for size, but sheer numbers. 


Java war... 1825-30

Nicolaas Pieneman - The Submission of Prince Dipo Negoro to General De Kock.
Of course, this painting is propaganda, although the sadness and despair of the Javanese Muslims is poignantly real.  The Prince went in good heart to a truce meeting where he was betrayed by the Dutch, and imprisoned. He was never seen again.

Diponegoro, a Javanese Prince, led his people against the Dutch in 1825. After fierce fighting over 200,000 Javanese were dead and 15,000 Dutch; the war turned into one of guerilla resistance ending in 1830 when the Prince met the Dutch then disappeared. Shamefully, the Dutch had asked him to a truce parley where they treacherously imprisoned and supposedly deported him. The Prince had also waged this as a holy war against apostate Muslims as well as occupying infidels. The Dutch wanted horses for this war which they won, and sent to Australia. In fact their first orders were as filled as early as 1816, before this war even started. They had a good lot of Australian horses for this war. 

Their wealth was increased immediately after this war by making the indigenous people use a fifth of their land for produce to be given free to the Dutch, or to do 60 days work a year for the government. This concession to not directly using slaves (as Raffles had abolished slavery) made the Dutch extremely rich. 

Although we were only just getting established with horse breeding ourselves - Australia was colonised in 1788 - we were able to supply a fair amount of horses. We were importing madly ourselves, crossing horses and getting extra good types - hoping horses would be a great export business - and it was. The giant market of India meant horse breeding was undertaken on a grand scale. We exported up to 20 thousand horses a year at the height of the horse trade; it went for about 150 years.


Kuda Renggong 
photo by Oki Erie Rinaldi, on Wikimedia

In Java real dancing horses are called Kuda Renggong, small children are led on the dancing horses in a September festival. The horses also perform skilled dances with adult handlers, some of which look like old military manouvres when the horse was trained for combat as much as the rider.

Of interest, Kuda Lumping (flat horse) is a dance performed by people with decorations and a flat, woven bamboo horse part of the costume - it's believed to have originated by paying homage to Prince Diponegoro's cavalry and their fabulous riding when the Muslims fought the Dutch although origins are obscured in the mists of time. In times of occupation this dance must have been greatly enjoyed as an artistic form of celebration and defiance, and a way of retaining culture. It's often combined with magical feats now, trances and tricks. 

Kuda Lumping dance

Kuda Kepang is called the trance dance. The trances can only be described as being in the same vein as any ritual induced religious ecstacy - odd.

Jaran kencak is a form of dancing with a horse and person, from the island of Madura. The art form spread to Java. The horse is dressed in ornate costume, originally war costume. It is based on the legend of a king' horse that would not go to war as it was too wild. Guards stayed behind to calm the horse, and once it was calmed, the people were safe. Music is played and the horse dances to the drum sound. For a time the horse must stand on its hind legs. There are statues of these horses on Madura. 


Lombok and Bali War... 1894-1908

1906 KNIL cavalry in front of the Royal Palace, Tabanan, Bali
on their Walers. 
Below, also in 1906, at the Bali uprising

This started when the Hindu Royalty of Bali tried to take over Lombok, which was Muslim. The Dutch saw an opportunity to quell the Balinese Royal family and gain Lombok - in the process they gained both Lombok and Bali. There were many atrocities, and personal accounts of Dutch soldiers shooting women and children, as ordered. 

The Rajah on Lombok submits to the Dutch.  Symbolic painting.

One famous aspect of the Bali war was the battle with Balinese Royal forces, who charged with their ceremonial weapons at the Dutch who were armed with modern weapons - firearms. It was a wipe out of Royal Balinese males; a courageous form of ritual suicide rather than losing. The surviving Royal family members of Bali and Lombok were exiled to Batavia. The Rajah's palace was looted, most of the treasure going to a Dutch Museum. Some Lombok Royal treasure has been returned to Indonesia, it's on display in a Jakarta museum.

Luxury! - Dutch horse spa on Bali , probably circa 1910 as there is a photo here of  horses enjoying this same spa dated 1910.

Celebes Rebellion 1905 - 1908

Celebes is now called Sulawesi. The South Sulawesi expedition ( Zuid-Celebes Expeditie) was also called the Fourth Bone War or Gowa War. KNIL invaded to force the kings to sign over power to the Dutch. The major kingdoms were Bone (also called Boni in newspapers in Australia at the time), Luwu and Wajo. There was fierce fighting. Eventually the Dutch won. Much looting took place. A few things have been returned. Among the treasure stolen was an important sword, Sundanga, and chain, Tanisamang.

Aceh war 1873-1914

Sumatra is a larger island than Java and immediately to its north west. Aceh is the area of northern Sumara, with the capital of Banda Aceh. Pirates from Sumatra had been attacking Dutch ships using the new trade route, as the Suez Canal had been finished in 1869 and ships did not need to head into southern seas for the long journey to Europe round the Cape.

Eventually the Dutch attacked the Sultan's palace in Aceh. A guerrilla war resulted and much retribution and atrocities were done by the Dutch on the indigenous people. Neighbouring islands were subdued and Dutch territory in S.E. Asia widely expanded. We supplied horses for this war, but as many surcombed to a fungal infection in the humidity and heat of the tropics, KNIL also used a lot of captured Acheen ponies which did the job admirably. They also used elephants for hauling loads in this war.

It was reported over 300 horses went to Batavia in 1912 from Newcastle, NSW. In January 1913 another load left from there on the Gracchus, with more collected en route at Brisbane - a total of 190 horses. Thirty Javanese soldiers chose the horses and travelled back with them.

In June 1914, J.B. Suttor, our trade commissioner to the East, gave a report for the trade figures of 1913 which said 7,333 horses from NSW had gone to Java and Madoeru (Madura Island just off Java) to the ports of Batavia and Soerabaya alone, without counting what had gone to other ports, Sumatra etc; nor what had gone from other Australian states. Queensland at the time was the biggest supplier. 

Suttor's government trade figures of horses shipped to the East Indies for 1911, was 11,250 horses from New South Wales. Considering a lot went from Queensland annually, it was a considerable trade. Not all were military horses. 

Artillery of KNIL, 1896.
Source wikipedia
worth watching is this excellent film about the Aceh War


World War One

The Netherlands were neutral, but supplied Germany with horses. The Dutch Horse Owners Association sold to the German Government, reported in Australian newspapers in Dec. 1916/Jan. 1917 in very small notices. While Australia only officially  let India and Japan have horses in WW1 we also let the Dutch from the Indies have some horses. In 1916 30 ponies went over to Belawin Deli (a port on Java) on the Tasman. 250 horses went on the Houtman in June 1916. Doubtless others, just as sighted in archives. Not many military exports made the news of course.

The Confidential H.M. Govt War Office doc on the Netherlands East Indies, 1919, has 47 mentions of horses. The link previously supplied herein has now been removed from the Australian Army site. If you can find it anywhere, it's a handy reference.


KNIL was started in 1830 - the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army.  The name distinguished it from the army back in Holland as a separate entity - the East Indies were not allowed to recruit soldiers from Holland, for fear it would leave the mother country short of soldiers - men from Holland could volunteer but no active recruiting was allowed. KNIL had several cavalry units, also artillery, and even used horsed cavalry in WW2. 

Doctor Wil Poser, a Lieutnant in KNIL (veterinarians and physicians attached to KNIL could attain officer ranks), on a ride with a civilian post holder. circa 1910-1920. Pony origin - not given, look local, although Australian ponies were also bought, who knows! Great mane on the doctors pony. source



The Dutch were good riders, one cavalryman born on Sumatra, Dolph (Adolph) Dirk Coenraad van der Voort van Zijp rode in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics, winning gold in both. He had ridden Walers in Sumatra, and possibly took one or more to these Olympics. He would also have met another Olympic rider there, the delightful Baron Nishi from Japan who also rode Walers, in the Japanese cavalry. The Japanese sent Australian horses to train in Holland for the 1928 Olympics. 

Horse shows were popular in the Indies. For example in 1902 alone in the Preanger (Parahyanguan) area of west Java, 14 horses shows were held at which over 4,000 horses competed - and this was just one area. It was estimated there were half a million horses in the Dutch controlled Indies area at this time (source HM War Office doc 1919). This also gives prices - one sees Australian horses were by far the most expensive, Java ponies the least expensive, while Sandalwood and Makassar ponies were also expensive - put to Java ponies these resulted in a more servicable military pony.

Pierre Marie Robert Versteegh was another Dutch equestrian, he was born in Sragen, central east Java. He also rode Walers in the cavalry, and competed in the 1928 Olympics, winnning bronze, and competed in the 1936 Olympics. Captured by the Germans in WW2, he was tragically executed by firing squad at a Sachenhausen concentration camp, 1942. 

photo: Antonius Colenbrander, 1928 Olympics.

Antonius Theodorus Colenbrander was born in Batavia in 1889. He competed in the 1924 Olympics (gold) and 1928, another great Dutch rider who rode Walers in the cavalry.

From the great cavalry riders of the Indies was directly descended a rider who made a massive impact on Australian riding - Art Uytendaal. Respected and loved always in our horse community.

To this day, many of Holland's best equestrians have direct ancestral links to the cavalry in the East Indies, who rode Walers. To have such great horsemen learn their skills on Walers in the cavalry, says a lot for our breed. Simply the best!

carriage horse on Sumatra, looks like a Waler, 1890-1900.
 source Tropenmuseum


Overlander to the Indies... and back  

Mathew Dillon Cox was born in Ireland in 1829. He migrated to Australia in 1850 learning bush skills in eastern Australia, then was "the first real settler" in the Northern Territory. He worked with horses, becoming a famous overlander and leased land in the N.T. to breed horses which he traded widely throughout Queensland and NSW. Cox saw the chance for lucrative horse work in the Indies. He migrated to Batavia in 1861 with 78 horses to become a horse trader, accompanied by his relative Willam Cameron also from Ireland. They were joined by other family members.

Eek! Near disaster -  Cox put a proposal to the Dutch in Batavia to set up a cavalry breeding stud on Timor. The Dutch finally turned him down, and Cox sailed back to Australia in 1871 to resume horse breeding and trading in the Territory. His scheme for thousands of cavalry horses being bred in Timor, starting with masses of imports of large horses, would have changed the pony there genetically, forever. That it didn't happen is due probably to his own nasty temper (he was caught up in a some messy doings) and partly to mysterious fate. 

Thank God the Timor Pony was safe. Iceland will not allow any other breed into their country, to protect their Icelandic Pony, a unique breed. The Kuda Timor is equally in need of protection. What a wonderful drawcard it would be too.

Back in Australia Cox set about getting prime horses and took them to the Territory for breeding. Again his fiery nature saw him commit various outrages, murders of Aboriginals and shady horse dealing. The crimes were compounded by him never being brought to justice. 

This tale and other Batavia connections are in the book Great Central State, The Foundation of the Northern Territory, about South Australia and it's Northern Territory, by Jack Cross, published 2011. One can trace the movement of horses in this tale and see which bloodlines went to the Territory and South Australia, and from where (Qld, NSW properties and horse lines named). Top book.


Racing. Planters had land and could afford to race horses, they and the native princes were enthusiastic about the sport and kept good stables with Australian horses, Sandalwood and Timor ponies, according to William Worfield who travelled extensively in Java and wrote a book about it in the late ninteenth century (in resources below), he mentions two Australian winners. One owned by a planter, named Lonely and another owned by the Regent of Tjandoer named Thistle, sired by Teviot, a West Australian horse. He said the planters and native princes were closer than the planters were to other Dutch settlers.

Racing was an important social occasion. A big carnival was held aaround what were usually annual race meetings. By the 1880's the main centres were Bietenzorg and Bandong. There were no handicaps or weight for age, rather all starters ran under a weight for height ruling. No matter if they won or lost, this did not vary. For the starting flag not the red flag, but the Dutch tricolour was dropped. Native ponies far outnumbered imports from Australia and were favored in race classes (which is fair enough).


Dutch ship Maetsuyker which took horses from Australia to the Dutch East Indies in the late 1930's. In WW2, still under a Dutch flag, she became an Australian Hospital Ship.

Nieuw Holland in Brisbane 1936, she took on passengers and horses for Java

Cavalry squadron of the Dutch East Indian Army circa 1930. 

Right in front of the troop their adjudant. 

Left in front a Javanese sergeant. 

Source : Gedenkschrift KNIL 1830-1950; Dordrecht Holland 1990

KNIL cavalry on their Walers at the Malang garrison, Java, 1935.


General Berenschot

This wonderful man, Gerardus Johannes Solok Berenschot, was the best Commander-in-Chief KNIL ever had. An accomplished military man; a fine man respected to this day. What marvellous people our Walers introduce us to!

photo from the family collection, produced in this source - it's in Dutch and has a lot of photos too. Captain Berenschot on the right... what lovely Walers!

Geradus Berenschot, far right.

Berenschot was an Indo Eurasian, born in 1887 on Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies. His father was an officer in KNIL, Colonel Gerrit Hendrik Berenschot. The Colonel married Florence Mildred Rappa, native to the area. They had three sons of whom Geradus was one. 

At 15, young Geradus was sent to the Netherlands for military training.  He zoomed through cadet school, then in 1907 graduated in first place from the Royal Military Academy, showing remarkable military aptitude (described as genius). The Academy awarded him an inscribed gold watch on a gold chain - a prize awarded for both results and behaviour - this prize was some years withheld for no worthy recipient.

With his new bride, Margaretha Caterina de Boer, daughter of a Reverend - they were married in 1908 - he returned to the Indies as a Second Lieutenant and was placed at Madjene on Celebes (Sulawesi), with the jurisdiction of Timor, Sulawesi and Manada (northern Sulawesi). Next he was posted to Bali, and in 1910 to Aceh.

He was the only person of Indian descent to become an officer with KNIL. He was blooded in the gruesome battles in Aceh, Sumatra. In 1934 he was made Chief of Staff of KNIL; in 1939 he was Commander in Chief of KNIL. He had a genius for organisation. If only he'd been made Commander earlier.

Berenschot right

General Geradus Berenschot
Berenschot had courtly gentle manners, was highly intelligent with a famous sense of humour and was greatly loved by his men - many saying he was the best officer they'd ever had. Humble, he always admitted mistakes - the gaining of wisdom so few accomplish. He was also a gifted diplomat, highly respected and much liked by the British, Australians and North Americans. He had boundless energy and was said to keep 'ungodly hours' in the field.

In 1941 General Berenschot was tragically killed in a plane crash in Batavia, returning from a conference with the British Air Chief Marshall. He was 54 years old. All flags were put at half mast, he was given a funeral with full military honours. He left a wife and three children. He had been strenuously trying to get the Indies ready for war, against a vastly depleted army and lack of local manufacturing. He had done an extraordinary job in a short while and set up good relations with Australia, Britain and the USA for co-operating with military intelligence, and for mutual help in war. The Australian army went into a slight panic mode over the Indies when news of his death came; Berenshot was our friend and anchor for safety there. His grieving widow was interred in a POW camp by the Japanese throughout the war. She survived, and after the war moved to Holland, to live with her father-in-law.

Had he survived, the Japanese invasion would have met far better resistance. History may have been quite different, although he had been fighting for the army to be better equipped - air power had been neglected and the army had been on severe cut backs during the Depression of the 1930's. That they had forces at all and were quickly rebuilding says a lot for his strength of character and foresight, and his famous organising energies. He was planning a 3,000 mile series of fortifications, better weapons and supply chains, and out-stations on many islands with infantry to help protect the fleet. Before he died, Holland itself was taken by the Germans - so the Indies were alone to fight the Japanese, with a vastly under-resourced army. Berenschott had been actively getting all the help he could elsewhere, and his recognition and organising of air power shows how astutely he read modern war - air power for the difficult mountain terrain to back up ground troops, and the Navy; and for reconnaissance.

Berenschot has been greatly admired in Australia, his strenous efforts for the Indies forces over the years often reported in our newspapers. His death was greatly lamented in Australia with many fine newspaper tributes to him. A truly remarkable man, missed by so many, gone before his time.

Berenschot. The most capable Commander-in-chief KNIL ever had. His adjutant with him.


Dutch buyers

As well as Australian traders sending horses over to order for civilians, farmers, the military, racing clubs, whoever wanted a horse; the Dutch liked to send their own buyers here for their army. Their buyers were experienced cavalry men and horse vets. Some years newspapers simply said "Dutch officers."Have listed where they are named, below, as found in archives. As well as their purchases, other orders went over from our traders regularly.

1892 for the government of the East Indies, Lieutenant Happe came buying ponies for their army. He'd been here before, and said the ponies seemed to have grown. 

1902 Colonel Posno of the Netherlands Indian Hussars came buying horses, with Consul Mr. N.H. Paling. Posno met with our Prime Minister.  The state Premiers were instructed to help him by our Prime Minister Edmund Barton. Colonel Posno was buying cavalry horses and ponies.

1906-7 Major Hooghamer, Mr. Erveneveld, and Captain Schuby came buying horses, to Qld, NSW and Vic. Arrived Dec 1906 and continued buying into 1907.

1909-10 Colonel Daniels, Chief of the Remount Department, accompanied by Captain J. N. A. Scheepens, veterinary surgeon, and Mr W. L. Boss-hart, Consul-General for the Netherlands in Australia, called on the Treasurer (Mr Wyatt). They wanted horses. He directed the chief veterinary officer of the Agricultural Department, Mr. Cameron, to help them find horse sales, breeders and traders. Arrived December 1909 stayed into 1910.

1916. Captain V. Reimsdyk was here in May buying horses. He was accompanied on his buying expedition by McKinnon, sent by our government; McKinnon was a buyer for our army in WW1. It was not published what sort or how many they got. They went throughout NSW and Queensland. He wanted cavalry horses and pack horses.

1917 a load of racehorses went over for Mr. L. van Bloomstein (horses were sent every year by buyers, just mentioning this one as it was during a war).

1922 Captain van Riemsdyk, Mr. van Temmen and Dr. J. M. C. Numans, arrived Sydney in January.

1925  Major Pitlo, Veterinary Surgeon Witjens, and Lieutenant Van Leeuwen came for 360 cavalry and artillery horses. Looked around Brisbane, Gladstone, Emerald and got some then to NSW.

1927 Lieutenant-Colonel van Reimsdyk came to Australia for horses with Captain F. Laupman and Dr. J. Witjens. Their 200 horses went on the Le Mair with 25 Javanese cavalrymen, from Gladstone. It was reported van Riemsdyk been coming here for the past 14 years and his wife was Australian. Several times he was accompanied by Major Shultz, who expressed his preference for Australian horses over all others. 

1929 it was Colonel Q. Roopman, accompanied by Captain Veterinary Surgeon W. Strick Van Linschoten and Lieutenant M. P. Stenger, here for 270 horses, who bought in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. 

1935  Lieutenant-Colonel, L. P. van Temmon, Captain K. J. Schummelketel, and Second Lieutenant W. Parree came to buy  170 cavalry horses, 43 cavalry officers charges, 12 artillery officers chargers, and 48 draught horses.

1936  Captain K. J. Schummelketel,  Dr. V. Parer, army veterinarian, and Captain M. F. Stenger came for 200 horses and went throughout Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

1938 Captain Stenger, Lieutenant Boes Lutjens, and Dr Parree bought 114 horses in the Comet area, having started out from Rockhampton, then went south for more to NSW and Victoria.

Many cavalry officers came here over the years, many good friendships were formed among the horse traders.

One or two commissions from the East Indies military came here each year to buy horses. Often they stayed for months as they travelled about collecting the horses. 


World War Two and beyond 

The Japanese took over the Dutch East Indies despite valiant resistance; all people suffered under yet another occupation. Many Dutch had been in the islands for generations. The war brought cataclysmic change. 

Battle of Java 1942 - great footage of KNIL cavalry and  artillery with their Australian horses  - from 3.26 minutes on (you can see the time on the lower bar of the video frame), then again at 14.21 and 19.00.

Australia, at the Indies request, sent forces to several places including Timor and Dutch New Guinea where both Timor Ponies and Walers were used, both by ourselves and KNIL. We went, as other allies, throughout most of the Indies during WW2 fighting the Japanese. Often Dutch KNIL military personel were included with Australian troops, 1,000 going with us to Timor.

At the end of the war, 1945, the Japanese occupation was over and the Dutch thought to regain their colony but the people of Indonesia had understandably had enough of occupations. Of the 36,000 Dutch East Indies troops at the start of the war, 28,000 had been indigenous. War over, it was time for freedom. So began the war of independence which ended in 1949; in the case of Netherlands New Guinea (Papua) in 1962. 

Australian horses of KNIL were used in WW2 until this army finished up in 1942, their personnel joining other Allied forces. Many of their horses were captured and used by the Japanese who had brought Walers to the Indies for the war too.

The Dutch army took Walers to New Guinea for WW2 (not sure of numbers at this stage, will update when to hand) - so did the Japanese - they took 4,00o Walers that were veterans from China in one fleet, and more followed (total numbers yet to be determined) and the Australians ourselves took some, chiefly for use on the Kokoda track. Another war Walers were used by all sides.

In the war of independence, the Dutch committed more atrocities such as the Rawagede massacre in west Java of hundreds of civilians in 1947, and the Westerling massacre in South Sulawasi. No apologies, trials or retribution have been made for these war crimes. The British and Allies also fought against the Indonesians in this war, in 1945, chiefly around Surabaya in east Java which resulted in great loss of life. Various groups sprang up to fight each other including an Islamic State group and a Communist group. As the Indonesians were also fighting these, it showed the Allies that the Indonesians were not "red" as the Dutch claimed. The Allies and Indonesia set about trying to find peace through the UN. Peace was finally gained through many negotiations, after the loss of 150,000 Indonesians and 5,000 Dutch lives.

When KNIL started up again in 1945, cavalry was not needed as much as mechanisation - in most areas local ponies were used by the army if and when needed. Some horses were shipped over, reports of agents buying for the Dutch East Indies at Scone horse sales in 1947 - but soon the trade was over. 125 years of friendly trade, and the end of an era. 

The waterside workers of Australia refused to assist Dutch ships to berth or load and unload, as they supported Indonesia's bid for freedom, which also made getting horses difficult. Dutch ships still berthed, but with hired help. However the point was made. Indonesia wanted its freedom and ordinary Australians supported them.

End of occupation... Holland resented the return of the East Indies Dutch who were their own people. They and the Eurasians fled back to the mother country as some Indonesian independance fighters wanted to kill them. About 12,000 Ambonese soldiers, who were Christians and had fought in the Dutch army, also migrated to Holland with their families. Things soon settled down again. These days the majority of travellers in Indonesia are Dutch, everything is friendly again. We too remain great friends with our neighbour Indonesia, our biggest trading partner, and with whom, like the Dutch, we share a love of horses and whose beautiful ponies ancient genes runs in our Walers blood. Australians for generations have visited Indonesia and love its culture - Indonesian influences are in much Australian architecture, landscaping and cuisine. It is to be remembered the Makassans, Muslims, had been visiting Australia for centuries, trading and inter-marrying in friendship, long before Britain invaded Australia. May we remain always at peace. 


Second Anglo Boer War days - a note about earlier trade 

The only hiccup in our friendly trading with the Dutch East Indies had been the time of the Boer War (Second Anglo-Boer War), we were fighting Boers and many were of Dutch descent. Things got a bit sticky, we sold the Indies some horses that were taken to the Boer War, ostensibly for private riding horses. Whether the Indies shipped Australian horses already in the Indies to Africa for this war, am not sure of at this stage - highly likely. After the Boer War, both the Dutch Indies and ourselves were wondering how to proceed with friendship and trading, after all we were neighbours. Australia invited an Indies Navy ship to the fleet review of Federation celebrations in 1901. The Dutch and Javanese on board were absolutely chuffed everyone made them most welcome, and they got heartily cheered. All was well, war forgotten, horses got shipped. 



has been a valued customer for our horses. Many racehorses go there, but also horses suited to the cavalry, and for equestrians. The Horse Cavalry Detachment - Detasemen Kavaleri Berkuda - has its headquarters at Paronpong Road, Lembang, West Bandung district, Java. It's part of the army and the only cavalry in South East Asia. They breed their own horses, Australian horses have gone into the creation of their cavalry horse. 

                       Indonesian cavalry

Demonstrations for the public are held, of horse care which particular pride is taken in - the horses are beautifully cared for and turned out - riding skills, equestrian competitions, feeding time and horse-shoe making. These tours of the cavalry complex by the public are necessary to help fund the cavalry's keep. A gift shop has items for sale too. Great place to visit! Horses and riders are both trained there, the cavalry training their own horses from youngsters to ridden. 

Since 2008 the Army Chief's trophy, the Kartika Cup, has been much coverted. This article mentions two Australian horses used for breeding in 1999. The cavalry are used for crowd control if neccessary, ceremonial occasions and for any purpose a mounted unit is useful. In such mountainous terrain, a small cavalry force on nimble horses will always have a use, even like many other countries, for search and rescue, access in natural disasters, let alone conflict, transporting supplies and ammo etc. Great to see these old skills of Indonesia flourishing and fostered, and so good they loved our Walers too, after all, most of the KNIL cavalry were ethnic Indonesians, not Dutch; in fact most were Javanese. A proud tradition that stretched back long before colonial days is kept strong and true now the country has its freedom. 

The uniforms worn on ceremonial occasions by this cavalry unit are beautiful. Army horses for ceremonial purposes are marvellous and draw big crowds. The speed of walking horse troops adds great dignity and is regular, slow moving machines have none of the same natural pace nor empathy. The USA and UK also know this, and keep wonderful horse troops - the 'Old Guard' (3rd US infantry) whose burial details are so stately, the Household Cavalry of Britain - so many countries from Thailand (could watch them for hours - splendiferous cavalry!) to Chile have majestic Horse Guards; tragically Australia doesn't have any army horses for anything. Horse troops here are re-enactment outfits, nothing to do with the army. We do however have jolly good mounted police.

There is also a special outfit for riot control complete with large protective shields. At times ceremonial occasions mean attending Royal weddings as a Guard of Honour, where the horses are plaited up and beautifully turned out. The cavalry is an excellent place for student veterinarians to train with horses, the young vets greatly enjoy it. 

In the present the horses of the cavalry number about 310. From 1954 starting with 24 horses, the cavalry horse had introduced blood from Saudi Arabia, Australia and Pakistan (happy to be corrected, my translating is not flash, one forum said Kazakstan not Saudi) added to the breeding program which included among its native ponies the Sumbawa pony and Sandel (Sumba). All in keeping with historical equine genetic sources for the area, as long as inbred horses were avoided which many modern breeds tend to be, sadly, unlike the old days.  There are scientific papers online where the cavalry had their horses tested for inbreeding, but I'm unable to read them (computer says no). Some in the cavalry do look like some of our Walers, interesting to see the genes may still be there. If I can find more on the breeding will update here. It has been said Indonesia bought Walers from us from post WW2 until at least the 1980's, after that probably Thoroughbreds - to be verified at some stage exactly what. Whatever breed they are, the cavalry horses look perfect for the country and are beautiful horses indeed. Thank you Indonesia for buying our horses, and what a great cavalry. One can see the love of horses just looking at blogs, and photos and comments on twitter #denkavkud. Wonderful. 

In central Java, there is a town named Waler.

      Native Ponies

Ponies have been on the archipelago and islands forever. Yes, that long. More equine genes came with invasions, migration and trade. Some mesolithic (stone age) practises in places such as Borneo, Papua, West Java, Timor and Sumba, animism and magic show how long people have been in these places - with horses (Indies, have not researched whether Papua had them yet). Horses have been there a long time, 40,000 years at least judging by rock art... updating blog as more comes to light...

Oldest ever?!...  Most intriguing  of all are the cave paintings  on Sulawesi -  paleolithic paintings of horses. Unlike European cave paintings of horses as prey, the Indonesian horses are being ridden. That they're the chief subject of paintings shows they were highly valued. You could say the islanders came into being with the horse.  Also found on Flores Island were the paleolithic remains of small people. The horses of the paintings even have reins to be guided with. To have such a legacy is remarkable. 

The pasola, on Sumba Island
Source: Garuda magazine.

It's highly possible horses evolved there, as they evolved in several places, theories seem to point now to horses evolving in several places at about the same time. great article

Horses adapt to their environment, a process of evolution. Trade added genes - those suited to conditions bred on, the rest failed. Humans have a great impact on horse development, selecting the fast for racing, strong for packing, small for easy keeping, large for war... as required. On the islands the uses remained stable - ponies are a utility animal. Truly magnificent ponies with a fabulous heritage. Fast, strong, brave.

The islands of Indonesia were extremely wealthy from centuries of peaceful trade among themselves and particularly with China, Japan, India, Arabia, Persia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Siam (Thailand), Cochin (Vietnam) and the Malay archipeligo - areas in sailing distance during the monsoon winds. Achenese from Sumatra sailed far and wide trading. An important part of trade was spice - and ponies. Ponies were traded out from the major breeding islands such as Sumba, Sumbawa and Timor - and also came in to the various islands from other lands. 

It was not until the disruption of violent European empires (all empires are by nature violent) from the sixteenth century that the multitude of rich little kingdoms, the beautiful farms and forests and the ancient trade that meant all prospered - was ruined - for the greed of a very few robbers on the other side of the world.

Hinduism came with traders from India - a mere 5,000 years ago - ancient Javanese and Balinese horse sculptures from that time are the same as contemporaneous sculptures of the Indus valley. Sculptures of the middle ages and earlier are the same as Chinese horse sculptures of the time - showing newer trading partners (who had excellent ponies); and Buddhism as a religion grew, confirming the connection. The Chinese and Javanese in particular were friends but peaceful trading went on right down the area to and from China - and India. Indian ships for centuries took advantage of monsoon winds to trade to Africa too. Arab countries about the Red Sea had a massive horse trade, and also visited the islands for ponies. Islam was long established in the islands from Arab traders and settlers. Then from 1500 the Portuguese came; after a violent start they settled and they loved to trade horses...

One can see the Indian influence in those curved daggers with their damascened blades, influence from the mighty Mughal era, in the Javanese kris. A  clue to these genes may be with Mising Tribe of Assam, India, who have great ponies still in use and some run semi-wild which keeps good traits - they live in an area where India meets the east and have an uncanny similarity. Testing the ponies DNA would be interesting and might show the link from India to Indonesia. more info on a pony race in Assam. The Assam ponies could be, with the Manipuri,  the last of the old breeds of this vast area (now part of India). Top little ponies bearing a very close resemblance to those of Indonesia. 

China borders Assam, which borders Manipur, which borders Burma, which borders Siam... not hard to see how ponies came on land migrations/invasions/ and most of all with trade. Assam and Manipur had horse cavalry rather than elephants. Manipuri cavalry fought for the Burmese army, many going to Siam.

The sea route from the Bay of Bengal is not far away either, through what is now called Bangladesh (was India). The Manipuri Pony has been DNA tested - there's an abstract online - it's hoped the ponies will be fully breed tested soon. Thus far the Assam pony has not but this project is in the pipeline too - both are endangered and represent the real Indian native ponies of older, purer genes. Interesting to see if there's a link to the Indonesian ponies, they too having resisted a lot of colonial genetic influence. There was tremendous trade (book ref in resources below) between India and Indonesia.  There's a lot of similarity with Indonesian and Indian ponies. All these link to the Waler.

Thus, China + India  -> Indies - pony genes should have close relationships. The biggest question is did ponies travel more from India and China to Indonesia or vica versa? It seems Indonesia has the edge on anywhere with cave paintings showing horses being ridden, closely followed by India. It's probable more horses went from Indonesia out, than came in.

The Tea Horse Road, used for 13 centuries up until 1960 or so, went through China, Burma, into Tibet, Manipur, Assam, Bengal and even right down Malaya. Tea was taken on ponies. In Tibet a pony was traded for 60 kilos of tea. Ponies and tea were the trading commodities, hence the route's name - tea was taken on ponies, and traded for ponies, and any other items wanted. The south-west tea Horse Road went down into India. Another went south into Siam (through the current Laos and Cambodia) and region using the Mekong River for a long section. A valuable trading route to know when researching pony genes. In the book The Adventures of a lady in Tartary, Thibet, China and Kashmire, published 1858, the author Mrs Hervey describes how she was unable to keep most of her 12 ponies bought en route - they were so valuable a commodity excuses were found to tax her of most. Thus these old silk routes and tea roads were a highway not just for tea, but for ponies. Through China and India, Burma and South East Asia. The ponies of Tibet, nearby, and western China would all share genetic legacy one would presume.

Ponies were swapped for tea from China. Ponies were an important commodity - pack animals and war animals. It was war animals the Chinese sought the most. Brave, manouverable, surefooted, strong, fleet. Hardy and good doers. Ponies and spices from Indonesia were swapped for tea. So Indonesian ponies got new blood in, and sent more blood out. It shows that for a very long time the islands have bred excellent horses, that were only added to with the best available. Spices, silver, salt, silk, cotton - all who lived along the trade route depended on caravans for trading both necessities and life's little luxuries. The horse races of annual festivals of the Nagqu in Tibet, down to those in Jorhat in Assam and all the way through Burma, Thailand, Malaya and the races of Indonesia to Timor - wow. Same races on ponies.

Who had ponies first? does it really matter? Keeping the breeds from each area as pure as possible is good -  it keeps the traits they  developed over eons - ability to stand the climate, local feed, altitude; ability to withstand local insect pests and diseases, strength for the work required. They could be a source of building immunity for some things. Of good ponies that are not inbred, unlike breeds gone to perdition through inbreeding. As ponies in these areas are still used, hence hardy, they remain a small window into history, of a time we all had horses and ponies (well - a lot of us!) that were great little helpers for work, sport, war and peace. They are telling us loud and clear who was friends with whom - how China, India and greater Asia all the way from Kashmir to Timor, Manchuria to the Middle East had a rich past of trade and friendship that benefited all.

Of interest, an article in a Bendigo newspaper in 1900, describes a Chinese tea caravan going to Russia. Kirghiz men had the horses which pulled sleds of tea, up to 5 sleds per horse, and one horse pulled the fodder. Horses were moved back and forth so there was always one feeding from the back of the fodder sled as they walked, to save time. The Russians did not like tea carried by sea. Tea was treated like fine wine - infinate terroir and types, a connoiseurs heaven. It was thought the overland trek made it better - indeed, tea improves over time. In freezing conditions, all slept on sleds where no villages existed. The trek took almost a year. Horses were also traded for tea from Russia, and along the way. So wow - horse and ponies were a valuable commodity and taken on immense walks 'across the sky' (mountains, Himalayas, tundra) to other lands. 

And from China all the way down Laos and Thailand to the bottom of Cambodia where it meets the sea, the mighty Mekong River was a trade route in itself, part of the Tea Horse Road. Off the end and it's a short sea trip to Indonesia and its ponies and spices. 

As evidence of horses being in the Philippines 4,000- 10,000 years ago has been found, it may only be a matter of time until evidence is unearthed in Timor and the islands, where little digging for fossils has yet been done.

 The Tea Horse Road
ponies went over 3,000 k's, traded along the way, which explains similarity in looks and hardiness over a vast area.
The trade route went to ports, and along rivers in places. 
Ships went to Indonesia (S.E. Asia). Spices and ponies from S.E. Asia were traded for tea and silk. The Dutch continued to trade in tea.
 The geographical isolation of some areas, keeping modern horse genes out, proves valuable in this era for keeping the trade ponies of old in a pure form. This applies to Indonesia too, where islands by their nature, have kept the ponies protected from genetic pollution to modern breeds that are now bred for looks, not utility, as of old.
map source, Wiki.

Another important trader was Portugal. Portugal was a stronghold for Templar knights who were a bank for Royals, Church and business - Templar money enabled the Portuguese to go exploring in the fifteenth and sixteenth centurys, right around Africa and throughout Asia. They beat the other Europeans to rich trading grounds and quickly set up a gadzillion trading posts. Extraordinary. These were down the west, south, east and north coasts of Africa - yep, right around the continent - at many points along the coast of India, in Burma, Siam, Malaya and throughout the East Indies all the way to Timor - they were in Timor by 1512. Map of their routes below in resources (as a link).

The Portuguese had the first global empire in history and founded Nagasaki in Japan and Macau in China which was handed back in 1999, and East Timor which they relinquished in 2002. Mind boggling. So as well as traditional traders the Arabs, Chinese and Indians, the Portuguese entered the game. All traded horses. wiki entry about Portuguese empire. Quite a pony ride through history. The East Indies (Indonesia) would have been a good source for ponies. Sultans there would have been good customers for new equine colours and types from afar coming in, probably gifted horses for trade diplomacy and tribute.

Historically, the major horse trading port for India and Asia was called Goa - down the coast from Bombay, right near the port now called Mormugao and referred to as Old Goa city. The Portuguese got this port in the sixteenth century and traded horses. It was the safest port for docking along the coast. Mind boggling amounts of horses went through here. The Arabs sold a gadzillion there.

Sandalwood and spices were bought from the Indies, and one of the Portuguese trading goods was horses. They bought them from Persia and other Arabian countries to sell on. Aden was a horse port for Arab traders on the eastern side of Arabia, a safe port. One may see how easily the many trading posts of the Portuguese meant short voyages could stage horses safely to markets. let alone speedy trips in the season of trade winds. This trade is important to know, for the spread of equine genes.

The trade went on so long, that a form of Portuguese creole was spoken along the African coasts and parts of the East Indies.  Various other Portuguese influence is ingrained in many cultures (excellent book reference at the end of this article). 

Portugal after all held the Moluccas and Timor a long time too. It's how most colonies came about - trading posts became territory. But did the Portuguese take more horses from the Indies than they brought in? It appears so. While Persia bred horses as a commodity, so did the East Indies.  

As the middle eastern horses may have been bigger, perhaps they were traded for this reason. Certainly the northern African horses would have been bigger (Barbs and Dongolas) - one can imagine them being a major desire of all men in those times. They became the base of all European breeds and the Arabian breed; one can imagine Arabians being Barb/Dongola crossed with Indonesian ponies in origin. The Dutch eventually took most Portuguese trading posts and were less interested in the horse trade as spices were their major interest and the Persians would not trade horses to the Dutch, so the horse trade of the area slowed.

No doubt the greater trade in horses was in fact from Indonesia to other places. One rethinks so many things. Like us getting ponies and sending horses back, it must have been a lot the same. Chinese were major traders and trade brokers in the Indies for centuries (they brokered trade between the Dutch and Javanese farmers for example) , so were Arabs, who took ponies, chiefly from Sumba, Sulawesi and Timor to countries such as India, the Levant and Persia - most by sea, part by overland spice routes - the influence of the Indonesian pony has spread far and wide. Those few coming in, quality animals, would have only enhanced the ponies in the hands of astute breeders.

Genetically these days, one would expect to find Chinese (and Mongolian/Tibetan), Indian and Middle Eastern (Arab) blood in the island ponies. Perhaps some Iberian blood, possibly, from Spanish and Portuguese colonial times, which should also link to northern African (Barb) blood. 

The Persians sold horses liberally to the Portuguese from the fine horse area of Fars in Persia (Fars is now in Iran). But once the British and Dutch took the trade there through treaties in the seventeenth century, the Persians restricted them to only a dozen horses a year. Both Arabia and Persia restricted horse sales to the British and Dutch, whereas they'd traded heartily wwith the Portuguese. 

Bussorah in Mesopotamia (Arabia) was also a major horse port. Bussorah is called Basra now and is in Iraq. There was a giant trade through there, in the ninteenth century it was usual for at least 20 laden British ships to be in the harbour at any one time, as well as other nationalities. This trade route went up the mighty Euphrates River then by caravans, ending up in Russia. After the British trade cut out, trade came the other way, down from Russia. Turkish horses were sold at Bussorah as well as Arabian horses, a big commodity. The Mughal era in India had an insatiable desire for horses, and ships ran constantly in the season from Bussorah to India, usually Goa. In colonial days of British India, Arab horses were the most sought and bribes had to be paid to buy horses for India in Bussorah, as sales to the British were restricted, same with Turkey. Turkish horses were also bought at Bussorah by the British. This big trade port no doubt saw horses go to the East indies too, and brought in to boost breeding numbers. The Arabian horse of those days was a good strong little animal with good bone and temperament, not like the inbred abominations one sees in the west today. All those brought to Australia in colonial days were described as having tremendous bone.

Perhaps in the Indonesian ponies are also traces of other genes from the later addition of Australian horses. Waler genes would show a lot of Thoroughbred, as it was, in the nineteenth century. The genesis of the Indonesian ponies is a fascinating ride through history, hopefully somone will set out on this journey.

Each island has its own types although inter-island trade, conflict etc have meant there is quite a bit of movement of types of horses with them and no doubt all have similar genes. 

On Flores and most islands the ponies are also called Kuda Liar (wild horses), and when young on Flores, Komodo dragons may prey on foals. 

Ponies are often milked, on Sumbawa, Sumba and Flores (probably elsewhere too) for food and for medicine. On Sumbawa alone there are an estimated 73,000 ponies. In the time of the Portuguese and Spanish some of their horses came in, along with Christianity on islands such as Ambon (the Moluccas), Timor and in the Philippines.

kuda liar (wild pony)  being milked on Sumbawa. 
Great solid pony with feathering like a Waler.
below photo from same blog - milking is a job for both genders 

Colours can be a signpost.  One sees Chinese illustrations of skewbalds (bay or chestnut and white - pinto) from the early middle ages that look like island ponies now, perhaps the Chinese were a little more plump but colours and makings are identical. And when the Chinese went mad to get the 'horses that sweat blood' from Ferghana (the bloody marking, a type of sabino in fact, that slowly spreads and darkens over time); no doubt these prized colours came to the islands too, with armies and traders. A Sultan would want one of those. There are grey (white) ponies in Java and on Sumba with bloody markings, probably they are found throughout the islands. Not common, but a finger pointing to China and the Silk Route. Bloody markings are also seen in the Waler. An ancient coat pattern.

 photo - cave paintings on Sulawesi
Two and a half million years of riding - beat that, world! Well - in fact the paintings may be 40,000 or so years old - equalling the oldest anywhere. The time frame of this age went back over two million years. 

India can almost equal it - having paeolithic cave paintings of horses being ridden - the Bhimbetka caves. These are smack in the centre of India. Yet as far as one can ascertain the living remnants of old Indian ponies are now to the east, in Assam and Manipur. These cave paintings are much the same time as the Sulawasi caves. The Indian horses look as if they may possibly be prey too, but it's hard to tell - both friend and food perhaps? The Indonesian ponies however appear purely friend. These paintings showing ancient horse cultures may also explain DNA similarities from the years of trade before the Dutch arrived - Indonesian ponies going to India. Did the Indonesians show Indians that horses were useful animals? Or vica versa? So many questions!

Ghenghis sends his chaps... the Mongols of the Yuan era invaded Java in 1292 with tens of thousands of ponies and about 30,000 troops - one can see the close similarity between the South East Asian pony types and the Mongolian pony - these ponies chiefly came over from China. Some Mongols settled down there, although their invasion was a failure it strengthened local Kings in their defense against invaders both from afar and locally; resulting in a powerful Javanese king on the throne, Wijaya, setting up the Madjapahit empire - the most powerful ever in Java. As the bulk of the Khan's forces left hurriedly, thousands of ponies/horses were abandoned, probably up to 20,000 (Kublai Khan was then the dynastic leader) there would have been a impact on local equine genes.

One in 200 people worldwide are direct descendants of Ghenghis Khan. Not just the ponies left a genetic legacy. Hmm, must get a test sometime. In the lively Tang dynasty of China, of 619-690 then 705-907 , the Emperor of China made a gift of horses to the King of Java - the early Tang - when ponies were still the main mount - the later Tang is famous for the sudden influx of big horses, seen in art - the famous Tang horses of paintings and ceramics when large horses were brought into China from Ferghana, later called Turkistan and now called Uzbekistan. These horses would have looked much like the Achel Teke of today, and the horses of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Chinese had gone nuts for these horses. 

bronze age cave paintings of Celestial Horses in Kzrygzstan 
similar to the Akhal-Teke and Turkoman

They were called Celestial Horses. Some of these were brought into China via the Silk Road in the Han dynasty, after a war to obtain them - said to be the first war started by China, and the first war over horses. It's probably from the genes of these special horses brought to the islands over the centuries that some current Timor Ponies have an irridescant sheen to their coat; from these ponies some Walers have this too.  The Kimberley Walers show it most, explorer George Grey, among others, let Timors go there in colonial days. The Celestial horses have been in those areas of Uzbekistan a long time, as cave paintings in Ferghana show them as much the same type as today.

Islam had made inroads in the country, peacefully, from trade with the mighty Indian Mughul empire - also horsey as heck  - from the thirteenth century, gradually taking over from Hinduism and Buddhism in most areas although these cultures remained, as did animism on many islands. 

Next the British, Spanish and Portuguese all invaded with usual colonial brutality and bringing Christianity. The Philippines had bravely repelled the Spanish until finally being invaded and colonised by them, but resisted Dutch invasion - then disaster, just as the Filipinos courageously won their war of independence from Spain, they were taken by the North Americans in 1898 with terrible savagery and genocide. Japanese occupation next and little better. For equine genes of the area some history is neccessary.

When the Indies islands reverted to the people in 1949, the Dutch had held colonies in the area for 400 years. Quite a trot.

Sumba has top beaches for riding on. Source: Financial Review

In 1905 horse trader Joseph Rowley, in a newspaper article on breeding horses for the overseas trade, described Sandalwood ponies as the best in the world, with a glowing description of their physique and attributes, saying they could be landed in Sydney for 50 pounds a head - more expensive than a good horse then. Rowley had travelled widely including to the Philippines, Japan, China etc selling horses and other livestock. He was greatly experienced with the trade, often getting orders from overseas governments.

It was often easier for the Dutch army to leave a few breeders such as Walers on various islands to cross with local ponies, most being about 12 hands; to save shipping horses about the place; one can see the crossbreds in some various cavalry photos - of which there seem to be too few, sadly, in the public domain - although archives in Holland have a lovely lot.

Kuda Sandel - Sandalwood Ponies
Sandalwood Island is now called Sumba island.

The Sandalwood Pony 
 brought to Australia in colonial days, would have looked like these ponies. They have definately gained some height over the years.

Ponies from Sumatra, which raised large numbers of them, were called Acheen Ponies; the area of Sumatra called Aceh was also called Acheen. The term was used loosely in colonial days as Acheen Ponies are reported brought to Australia from Timor. As the ponies were virtually identical to the eye, it's an understandable confusion of names. We also got several shiploads of ponies from the island of Lombok.

The other islands such as Sumba (previously Sandalwood) and Sumbawa also have their own types of native pony, the Sumba is said to have gotten heavier after local ponies crossed with Walers bound for India that came ashore from shipwrecks, and from being thrown overboard when ships were at a standstill in the horse latitudes (no wind to sail with) and where horses usually died on board from heat and lack of water. Some Walers thrown overboard, occasionally made it to land. The ponies are a tad higher than other islands. 

The heavier horses once on the Philippines of the Moro people - exceedingly brave people who fought the North American invaders (apart from some who collaborated which always happens in conflict, being unavoidable for some for survival) - certainly showed some Waler influence - some came ashore there from shipwrecks and being washed overboard in storms - plus we sold a lot of horses to the Spanish in the Philippines. The American invaders wiped them out in the Moro war of 1906-13, (and millions of people massacred) following their 1898 genocide (over a million people slaughtered) for humans and local pony types millenia old. 

Horses and anything remotely viable for survival was eaten when the invaders deliberately blockaded the Philippines and caused severe famine in 1898-99. Tragically this spelled the end for the Spanish horses of the cavalry - local pony with Spanish, Persian, African and a lot of Waler input - a unique type. The Moro fought the Spanish at times, then the North Americans. 400 years of defense. Easy to see how extremism comes about. 

The Moro horse of today is a smaller, lighter animal. Moro is the Spanish word for Moor. The perfidious invasion 'tactic' of targeting civilians and livestock was happening in the Boer War at the same time, where we went, although for a far shorter period. Pointing out atrocities is not to target any one country. All those who seek war are guilty. We were instrumental in the near annihilation of the Cape Horse. 

The odd Australian ended up in the Philippines. In 1905-06 many Australian monks, Catholic Redemptionalists, moved to the Philippines, concerned over the destruction of churches by Americans - who persecuted Catholics and Muslims - and the need for a charity to help the needy. Tom Binnie of Queensland managed a plantion for Southern Cross on Mindanao 1908-1910 and was caught in battles caused by invasion, he was glad to return home. Of interest, Japanese farmers dominated the hemp industry on Mindanao prior to WW2.

Above 2 photos, Moro horses. Top photo 1898, lower photo no date

A bit of Spanish blood no doubt got traded to Celebes (now Sulawasi), Borneo and Malaya. The Moro probably had a dash of Waler. Combined with their main genetic structure of island ponies this mix, long acclimatised and part of the islands from time immemorial, made superb cavalry mounts. As we know with Walers, handsome is as handsome does!

Were they direct descendants of equus sivalensis? or another species? we will never know as they were wiped out early in the twentieth century by invaders.

On Java were also different native breeds, one being the Kedu of central Java I've seen reference to but can't find online (thus far), this is a central and lush plains area. Luna, the pony mare whose photo is below, is from this area; if she's an example they're an extremely well made, handsome pony. One could not wish for better. Ponies are frequently taken from island to island so over time genes have been randomly spread about in a big melting pot, yet various breeds have developed as numbers are so big that a few moved about don't make a signifigant impact. It's such an ancient horse culture the people there would know heaps about their breeds and types. Probably they are DNA tested, will update as info comes to hand. The Indonesian cavalry for example have DNA tested their current horses.

In 1883 the schooner Flowerdale out of Geralton W.A. ran aground in Banka Straits near Sumatra, and jettisoned 8 of her hosres from the deck to lighten her load. Some ships ran aground and some were wrecked, so horses from Australia en route to India, Singapore and Hong Kong, got away more than one would think. In 1907 the steamer Fortunatus ran aground on Flores, she was carrying a cargo of Australian Thoroughbreds but it transpires all were kept on board and made it safely to their destination when she was floated off. It was traditional that horses from wrecks were taken by islanders in the age old rights of salvage, flotsam and jetsam.

Ponies of Sulawesi (Celebes) 1923
obviously solid - a touch of Moro horse and Waler
An Australian horse on Sandalwood in 1920
4 years old, entire
Source: Satu Timor.
Horses had been the major trading commodity for Sumba in the nineteenth century - early in this century to Arabs. Latter half, to the Dutch and other traders (as Sandalwood Ponies).

Sulawesi (Celebes) also had Walers come ashore from the trade route to India as well as being taken there by the Dutch. Reg Wilson, a historian for the Waler Association, went to several islands (Sumba, Sumbawa, Timor) looking at the ponies and recorded the looks of the first two as some showing some Waler influence, and the Timor as still pure and like the Timors of Australia. Ponies are far more frugal to keep and suit the climate perfectly - there had been no need to make them larger until constant wars called for cavalry. Fabulous traditional fights with spears on horseback are still held on Sumba - this is a sport, but a dangerous sport, part of the famous Pasola - a festival to welcome the harvest sucess - that takes place in several places in February and March. There are great videos of this online

The Dutch kept a cavalry force on Sumba in case of North Americans raiding; the locals, although fantastic warriors, supported this, for that empire was far more dangerous than the Dutch; genocide and torture in the Philippines had scared everyone in the area.

This is a good article, you can copy and paste the text and use google translate or a similar service... it mentions 7 stranded ships having the horses confiscated by the Sumba island people ... a Timorese article about  Australian horses probably being the reason Sumba horses are a lttle bigger than surrounding islands.

Sumba Ponies
the head/neck carriage of the cavalry horse
source: blog of Hilary Hopkins, Hilary's Places.
lovely little video of the Sumba ponies on their home range

Sumbawa Pony
image from TropenMuseum says it all about colonialism...
a lovely pony; another horse raising and trading island

October 1945.  Australians under command of Major J.M. Ballieu used many Sumbawa ponies to conduct mounted patrols from Lopok scouting for Japanese camps, they were called Sunforce. 
Some Dutch helped in Sunforce too, above photo is Lieutenant Westerbeek of NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) who was said to have the best pony of all.

 Sulawesi in Dutch colonial times... 

The new breed Kuda Pacu Indonesia (Race Horse) is a cross of the Thoroughbred and the Sandalwood pony used for mostly racing, also for trekking. It was carefully developed to stand the climate far better than introduced Thoroughbreds. 

Kuda Pacu Indonesia (KPI) pictured above is a racehorse breed, developed from Sumba (Sandalwood) ponies and Australian thoroughbreds - a government sponsored program. The breed was created on Sumatra by the famous Indonesian horse woman Oetari Soehardjono, who also wrote a book (left) about the race horses of Indonesia simply called Kuda. It's in Indonesian and can be bought as an inexpensive e-book here, you might be able to get a translation service for it.
Fears the Kuda Pacu will lead to the demise of the Sumba Pony are unfounded - there are about 50,000 ponies on Sumba. Robert Gana, Head of East Sumba District Veterinary Office, says the pony is safe, according to this source a blog, in Indonesian. The Kuda Sandel (Sumba Pony) has the highest amount of Arab horse blood of all the Indonesian ponies according to several sources, although I have yet to find some DNA results to be sure. This would have been from the centuries Arabs were the main traders in the general area. Also the Portuguese traded a lot of Arab horses and traded throughout the East Indies. Several books have been written on the Sumba ponies - chiefly about the Pasola.

Racing is insanely popular on most islands, just as it was in colonial Australia - entertainment and the hope of winning money, also a matter of pride in breeding, training and owning winners. One only hopes the ponies and horses are not made to suffer, racing in modern Australia is a cruel and wasteful sport with most horses going to the knackers before they are three. However it's traditional there - racing in Indonesia was recorded in old Chinese and Hindu records, well before Ghenghis Khan's mob turned up. Probably the oldest racing fans in the world.  And can they ride! racing photos from Aceh

Above and below - Mock war at Karolanden, an area of Sumatra, circa 1914-21. source Tropenmuseum. Great ponies. Strong and healthy. Looks a bit like the Pasola.

The ponies of Sumatra may have some Waler influence from Dutch days; they took many Walers to Sumatra. One can see the native Batak Pony of central Sumatra is larger and heavier. Looking online, it seems to have remained a good solid horse, thankfully one cannot see much to see Arab in it, as some sources say it's now bred out to. The value of keeping native ponies pure in the modern era cannot be over stressed. People will invariably breed for aesthetics, not a use - use is how breeds come about - that and survival in the wild of the area will keep them strong. Breeds are ruined if the wrong type of people decide to breed, the sorts have the mantra 'to improve,' and who use in-breeding and keep animals in soft enclosed conditions, all fatal. There is still a lively interest in Indonesia in their special equines, heaps of horse sense, and horses still have a use in many areas so there is hope for the future of their breeds. 

Batak Pony of central Sumatra

Lower photo is the Batak of today - what a magnificent animal.
Old photos of the Batak in the archives in Holland show it to be a smaller animal, just as sturdy. The mountains, jungles and humidity of Sumatra meant bigger horses were no use.

In the book  of his life story published in 1981, DaniĆ«l van der Meulen recounts how the Dutch tried hard to "improve the Batak by making it larger and faster, like the European and Australian horses". They brought many large stallions in, most if not all Australian, and set up horse breeding stations. The locals resisted as much as they possibly could. The project was abandoned and the tough, small Batak remained largely genetically pure. Meulen is glad of this, saying the attempts to change them was a well intentioned mistake. The Batak performed far better there than larger horses.

plouging rice paddy with ponies, Gayo, Aceh, Sumatra, 1948.
Good little working horses. Some people call them Kuda Paddy/Padi.
Photo source here and more  ... if you scroll halfway down the linked page, there are several photos from the 1890's (colonial, some awfully so, sorry).
The ponies can be distinctly seen as the usual light little kuda, the strong pony (local Batak or Australian?) and bigger horses which one would presume are Australian, as many went to Sumatra for several decades - used here not for the military, but for colonial's carriages. A diverse mix with obvious origins.

ponies on Sumbawa - these are a good size and have some heft. Source Tropenmuseum, undated other than  prior to 1940

terrific island pony showing no other breed influence on Celebes (now Sulawesi), with Makassan deer hunter up, circa 1944. The Makassans were great sailors and traders too, and visited northern Australia long before white people invaded the continent. Muslims, they came peacefully, and often married Aboriginals. 
Australia has a long history with the Makassans.  No doubt they too traded ponies from breeding islands such as Timor.
 Many Makassar ponies were bought by the Dutch for their government stud farm, where they bred cavalry horses, on Java. Makassars, Sandel, Chinese and Australian horses were all bought as they were bigger than the Java Pony in those days, and crossed with local Java ponies. Mares of the stud were leased out to private people.
 photo source

The Timor Pony has perhaps remained the most pure of these Asian ponies, one of the purest breeds in the world. 

Importantly, ponies were a major export of Timor for centuries, perhaps thousands of years. They had no need to import ponies once their numbers were up - how long ago this was, is an intruiging mystery for now.

Fossil remains of Equus Sivalensis in the Philippines shows horses have been in the islands a long time. More digs need to be done in Timor to see if there is any evidence there.

Perhaps as horses were in several places about the globe, being bred and semi managed by humans a long time, only those that survived the last ice age due to their areas being left in a survivable state such as Spain, northern Africa, India and Indonesia, survived and bred on - plus the hardy few like the Exmoor and Tarpan (now extinct) in colder areas. Whether horses were in Indonesia before the ice age or after, seems from those fossils, to say before, which is about as old as it gets with the modern horse.

DNA to link horses with Himlayan ancestry (the Siwalik horse of the Himalyas is the fossil evidence of e. sivalensis which copped it in the last ice age and disappeared) such as the Manipur and Mising as well as Indonesian ponies, and those from Burma, Tibet, western China etc, might show they all have sivalensis in their background (am a rank amateur obviously, just surmising), surviving due to where they happened to be.

Timor and Sandalwood were the two major pony raising islands of Indonesia - ponies were a major source of income/trade to outsiders. Chinese and Arabs traded kept trading even after the India trade dropped out to the islands, trading into the early twentieth century. Portuguese traded there too, and it was their colony for a long time. Did they bring horses in? Highly likely. Certainly they would have taken ponies out as ponies were a major trade commodity there. Were horses there before they arrived? Highly likely as Chinese and Arabs were trading horses from the islands a long time the Portuguese arrived. Java horses were going to Thailand long before the Dutch and Portuguese arrived. Timors were taken to Java frequently as a trade commodity.

Timor Ponies were bought by the thousands for Australia in its colonial days and went into the genesis of the Waler - so like the Java pony, its cousin, the genes went back to Asia with Walers the Dutch and Sultans and Indonesian army bought. 

Australia's Timor Ponies... Timor Ponies still remain in small mobs on the Coburg Peninsula of the Northern Territory of Australia, from ponies released there in the 1820-30's-40's. They are often shot from helicopters by the government which is exceedingly cruel - arial culling is outlawed in most countries -  and have no protection despite never building up to anything remotely resembling unsustainable numbers. A small handful are now in the  hands of private people, their capture arranged by Reg Wilson, they have been accepted into the Australian Pony Studbook and their DNA tested. These ponies are critically endangered. Their genes are a preservation of perhaps the world's most ancient stock.

On Timor the ponies are still pure, to my knowledge with no studbook or record keeping. It would be great to be corrected. One can only pray they are not bred out to other breeds and lost. Pony numbers on Timor are not high, unlike other islands, and on blogs online in Indonesian, one sees locals lamenting the government on Timor does nothing to foster them. The Waler is the same - it took a group of people to set up saving them ourselves; no government help, to date, has ever been received. 

 West Timor, circa 1930-36, source Tropenmuseum.

Any group on Timor setting up a way of keeping their ponies would be met with great support throughout the world, these ponies are iconic. A superb pony with a long history, called Kuda on the island (meaning horse) and used for racing as well as work. Probably the oldest pure breed in the world with heritage going back to paleolithic times. Timor is a haven for these ponies that are part of Australia's genesis and dreaming since colonisation, and which have been so vital to work and play on Timor for time out of mind, with all the romance of traders with their breeds in the past, from exotic places, to add some spice. Conversely, the blood of the Timor possibly flows in the blood of horses on all continents. Horses are such a part of the culture, and have been for so long, it's a certain thing that the ponies are in the safest hands possible. Far safer than the ones in Australia, where our government does not help them but the reverse - hunts them down, destroying valuable and rare equine genetics.

Timor Pony (Kuda) racing in Timor Leste, 1986
photo source above and below : DetikTravel.

While East Timor is now free and called Timor Leste, the west is still part of Indonesia. Timor was a Portuguese colony. The Dutch took over west Timor, the east stayed with coloniser Portugal. In WW2 the Japanese took the whole island and slaughtered tens of thousands of people. After WW2, Indonesia got West Timor and the Portuguese reclaimed East Timor - but in the 1970's Indonesia claimed it all - backed by the USA (Ford and Kissinger) which supplied the weapons. Shamefully, despite Timor begging us for help, Australia stood by and let this happen - ignoring the fact Timorese fought for us all through WW2 and were instrumental in Japan not getting to Australia. It took decades and atrocities by the Indonesians until the east bravely gained independence, through United Nations intervention and forces, led at last by the Australian military, in 2001. Guerrillas had constantly been fighting for their Timor to be free. Independence was gained and the country called Timor-Leste. The western half of the island is still Indonesian controlled.

 Rajah (Royalty) in the Amarasi Kingdom of West Timor.
 Undated. Source Tropenmuseum. Great pony!

Timor Ponies were in Dutch New Guinea (now Papua) in WW2 where Australian soldiers held a race meeting with some ponies, account of the race here. 

Photo is the winner of the Merauke Cup - on a Timor Pony -  held in Dutch New Guinea, 1943, ridden by a member of detachment of 5 Field Survey Company, Royal Australian Engineers.

It looks as if the Australians took the ponies there, but will update when the info is unearthed. Timor Ponies were used by Australians in Timor in WW2 as well as by local people of course. The Australian War Memorial photos of the ponies - some by iconic war photographer Damien Parer. Sparrow Force, which landed at Kupang, West Timor, consisted largely of Australians of the 2/40th Infantry Battalion, mostly Tasmanians; and the 2/2nd Independent Company, mostly West Australians. Lark Force went to Rabaul on New Britain, north of Dutch New Guinea; and Gull Force to Ambon. Dutch ships were used to transport troops often, so maybe ponies went along at times, as many of these ships had previously been used to ship horses. 

Photo at Sopata New Guinea, October 1943, Timor pony Lucy ridden by Craftsman Fitzgerald, being led by Bombadier Lahay on a Waler, at the HQ of the Royal Australian Artillery, 11th Australian Division, on their race and gymkhana day.  
Allied forces, not all Australian, obviously took part.

Some 1,000 members of Netherlands East Indies military personel were with Sparrow Force, as were other Australian contingents. Sparrow Force is listed here with accuracy. Timorese assisted us in Timor - they wanted their country saved from occupation, Australia wanted to stop the Japanese heading south to Australia. The ponies were invaluable to all, and left yet more heart-shaped hoofprints on Australian hearts. Battle of Timor info.

Timorese soldiers on ponies, 1942, Portuguese Timor (now Timor Leste), possibly with Sparrow Force or 2/2 Independent Company. Am not sure if these soldiers may even be part of KNIL men with the Australians. AWM does not say. Someone might know the uniform.

Damien Parer photograph of Australian guerilla and Timorese, 
Timor 1942. 

Magic... On Timor, as many other of the islands, exists a wonderful form of magic that is both spiritual and practical, in Timor Leste called Lulik. Although one may be a Catholic, as 90% of the population are, or Muslim, or other, the old ways run powerfully through all. It is vital to have an understanding of Lulik, even though the real secrets are not for outsiders, to understand these ancient and beautiful cultures where all things seen and unseen are interwined, and there are rules for everything. This is a fabulous explanation of Lulik.

The Chinese traded with Timor for centuries. Long before the Portuguese came there. There were ponies on Timor when the  Chinese traded, before the Portuguese came. Ponies were always a major trade commodity for Timor, and the little Timor pony went all about the globe.

In the nineteenth century Chinese are recorded in 1857 taking ponies all through the island on a normal trading mission, meeting with chiefs and giving them valuable gifts in return for trading sandalwood. At this time even the Dutch and Portuguese could not venture to these areas safely. These Chinese traders had come over from Java and neighbouring islands. It is not hard to see ponies would have been traded too (source, James Fox, paper reference below). 

Chinese Buddhist temple at Coupang (Kupang) on Timor, 1837.
Chinese took sandalwood and bees-wax back to China for making incense, important in temples and home altars. They also traded ponies. source

Alexandre Dumas, father of the man by the same name who wrote The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, was a prolific writer too. About 1810 while in Mauritius, he describes a race at Port Louis of Timor and Pergu (Burma) ponies, showing the trade extended there too. It's not hard to see Timors would have made it to Portugal over the centuries of the trade.

Coupang (Kupang, Timor) c.1845. Pl. no. XXIII of: Sketches in Australia and the adjacent islands by Harden S. Melville. Tinted lithograph with some hand colouring. London: Printed and published by Dickinson & Co. c 1849.

Irian Jaya (now included in West Papua) - and all western New Guinea - was previously Netherlands New Guinea, also called Dutch New Guinea. It is now part of Indonesia, and known as West Papua - atrocities and genocide continue there. The Dutch also held a huge part of Borneo. It's ironic Indonesia suffered brutal colonisation but is doing this in turn in some areas itself. History is a litany of these stories. It is politicians not people who make trouble - and rogue soldiers who must be jailed. Indonesia is a great place and as a new country regarding independence, doing a top job of getting itself sorted out. Australia has immense respect and fondness of Indonesia, a trading partner since our colonial days - many of us holiday there and immigrants go both ways - we're great friends and neighbours. We can only hope and pray each country that wishes, will have its independence, peacefully.

Timor Pony, West Timor, Amarasi district.
Photo from the 2012 blog of Theophilus Natumnea

racing in Aceh, Sumatra

source: SBS

Silk road trade routes. One can see how ponies would have been traded along these, and how prior to the Suez Canal, part of the route went overland at the top end of the Red Sea. map source



Australia and the Dutch in World War Two, short scholarly article

Official War Memorial account of 1942 in Timor mentioning the 1,000 Netherland East Indies troops and the immense help to us by the Timorese.

The Portuguese in the East. A Cultural History of a Maritime Trading Empire, by Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya. Hard to get hold of, but available online as an inexpensive ebook.

Abstract of the DNA of native breeds and ancient breeds of China -shows links to the Far East. One would hope this means a good link to the ponies of Indonesia.

Abstract about the Manipuri pony showing it's different to other breeds of India, which gives one hope the native pony of Assam, semi-feral (itself probably descended from the Manipuri), may link to the ponies of Indonesia (or some) - hopefully the link between the Indies and India from trading days. Manipur is the area next door to Assam. Manipuri Ponies by the hundreds if not thousands, went to Burma to fight as cavalry and thence to Siam (Thailand) as discussed in the Siam blog. It is not hard to see this way too, the genes 
would have migrated to the Indies - Thailand running down into Malaysia hence, Indies.

Article on the Manipur today

Reference book for the horse trade and histories - India and Indonesia During The Ancient Regime, essays by Peter J. Marshall, published by E. J. Brill.

Scholarly article about the origion of the horse in India

J.J. M. de Groot, a Dutch scholar, wrote a lot about Javanese horse lore, his book published in 1899. A must-have for anyone studying this area. He included superstitious beliefs about whorls and other 'signs' on horses. The same beliefs in Japan, India and parts of China show there was a strong trade once - shared beliefs. These old horse beliefs and games like the pasola (similar to gugs of Ethiopia) that are common to several countries tells its own tale. Things like four white feet are lucky in Ethiopia but unlucky in England (hence its colonies) shows less old interaction and trade. Whorls are also part of the superstitions of Australia, hence from England no doubt, e.g. two whorls near the centre of the forehead means a very good temperament, a whorl below the centre of the forehead is also good, one high above the centre of the forehead is a horse not to be trusted etc. The Mising tribe seem to have a lot of common with Sumba in riding techniques and so on. All this point to horse cultures of this vast area - India-Indonesia - having solid interaction in times past.

von Gullik is another scholar from the East Indies who went on to spend his career chiefly in Japan and China. He studied horse lore for his PhD, a thesis titled 'The Mantrayanic Aspect of Horse-cult in China and Japan' completed in 1935. As he had a deep love of the East Indies, he was caught in that odd world so many of us know, fraught with angst, between colonialism and the culture it invaded and came to
live with. His insights on horse lore bring light to Indonesian lore and shows the link of cultures and trade. The common love of horses.

Another good old book on the East Indies from 1754 by Captain Cope, mentions horses a lot.

Scroll down this page for an explanation about when the 'horses that sweat blood' came to China and how.

'Out of the Ashes', a scholarly paper on Timor by James J. Fox, mentions Chinese trade.

A Visit To Java, With An Account Of The Founding Of Singpore by William Basil Worsfold, mentions Australian horses and some good information. Interviews with people in Java etc. Published 1892 by the Library of Alexandria.

Research paper written in 2004 by Greg Bankoff, Bestia Incognita, the horse and its history in the Philippines 1880-1930.
A great reference book which has the horse trade in fairly good detail inc. Walers and East Indies: Maritime Empires, British Imperial Maritime trade in the Ninteenth Century, edited by David Killingray, Margarette Lincoln and Nigel Rigby. Various contributors. Well referenced. Published 2004 by the Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England. The Australian content is good although numbers may err.

Not horses but a great grounding of the politics of the 1940's that affected trade - Dr Margaret George (Australia) wrote a thesis on Australia's relation with the Netherlands during Indonesia's war for independence. It is published and a scholarly landmark look at these times; she even learned Dutch for the research.

this lovely blog mentions an Australian horse named Pierre, retired from the Dutch cavalry, being bought by a tea planter at Bandung.

News clippings

photo above and text below from The Argus (Melbourne) 15th January, 1930.

Twenty-three remounts for the Dutch East Indian Army were loaded on the steamship Van Spilbergen yesterday for Java. The horses are shown in charge of Javanese troopers.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 6th March 1813
October:- The Hope touched at Batavia on her passage from Bengal, and took on board nine Javanese ponies, which she left at Hobart Town.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 3rd May 1817
Twenty-five fine young horses were shipped by the Fame by Messrs. Riley and Jones, for Batavia ...

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 25th April 1818 

On Tuesday sailed the ship Laurel, Capt. Green, for Calcutta via Batavia, for which latter place she has on board 6 cows and 23 horses.
The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News. 16th November 1849. 
SAILED.- On the 14th instant, the barque Caspar, Eldred, master, for Batavia. Cargo - 20 cows 10 horses, and a few tons sandalwood.

Adelaide Advertiser 10th November, 1900.

A consignment of South Australian horses for Java have been shipped by the steamer Harburg, of the German-Australian line. Messrs. Harrison & Co., the well-known millers, are the shippers, and the animals are for the Java market. The shipment comprises 55 horses, mostly ponies and horses up to 15 hands. They are all in excellent health. On Friday afternoon the horses were placed on board the vessel, lying at the Ocean Steamers' Wharf, and the work was carried out without any serious difficulty. Comfortable quarters have been reserved for them on the after deck.

The Sydney Stock and Station Journal, 19th July 1901.

About a week ago Mr. Fred. Christey, the well-known horse-shipper, left Sydney for Java, with a shipment of horses, mostly utility sorts; although as "griffins" he took a number of three and four-year-old thoroughbred entires. Java is a very useful market for Australian horses, shipments to that Dutch possession amounting to & hundreds of equines per year; and em- bracing many classes, although draughts may not be included. Small horses are used for almost all purposes, but racing. For turf sport, although the racing of ponies is popular, full- sized thoroughbreds are used. The mountainous nature of the country makes the small horse much more popular than the tall one.

Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 11th July 1905

It may be of interest to breeders to know from where I consider thc finest ponies in the world can be obtained. I allude to the Sandal Wood Island, or Tumba. This is land is about 110 miles in length west north-west and north-east, and about 40 miles wide, lt is imperfectly known, especially on the South Coast, which is flat and low. The inhabitants are of Malay origin, although distinct in race and language from the neighbouring Islands. The island forms one of the divisions of the Timor Presidency, and is subdivided into three Presidencies, viz., Melalo, Waingapee, and Memboro, Walngapee is the principal town, and has a Controller in charge. This island has the best and largest breed of horses in the Eastern Archipelago, and they are superior to anything their size in the world. They are mostly black, brown and bays: exceedingly shapely, hardy, and very active ; in height about 13 hands, and by nature docile. They are never shod, and they are frequently to be seen climb-ing the rugged hills with 12 and 13 stone on their backs. Unlike the Timor ponies, they do not fall away in the hind quarters: they are broad, thick set, with arched necks, and flowing manes ; their tails trail on the ground. The best of them could be landed in Sydney for about £50 per head, and I am sure would be found superior to anything yet imported to Australia. I purpose experimenting with a few, and hope to land them in Sydney next October.
J.G. Rowley.


Brisbane Courier. 19th January 1905

In the Hunter River district, in New South Wales, 120 ponies have just beenpurchased for export to Java These were shipped in the steamer Argus. In Java Australian horses of the right stamp are said to be in great demand. As an endeavour is being made to open up trade between Queensland and Java, the statement suggests that Queensland horse breeders might find another outlet.

The Brisbane Courier, 5th February, 1907.
Horses for the Dutch Government. The steamer Euryalus of the Currie line arrived at Pinkenba last evening from Melbourne via Sydney and berthed at the Railway Wharf. This morning about 140 horses will be placed on board They are being shipped by Mr G. G. Kiss on behalf of the Dutch Government the Euryalus is expected to leave forSourabaya, Batavia and Singapore at noon to-day.

The Telegraph (Qld) 21st October 1907

Remounts Wanted.

Netherlands Officers' Mission.
Captains Schultz, Riemsdyk, and Schoopens, representing the Netherlands Indian Government, are passengers to Sydney by the steamer Guthrie, which arrived at Pinkenba from Singapore, via Java ports, this morning. The officers named are commissioned to buy on behalf of theirGovernment 340 remounts in Australia. Some of the horses they hope to be able to purchase in Queensland. The remounts are for use in the Dutch military service in Java.
Evening News (Sydney), 1st Feb, 1909

HORSES FOR JAVA. The Royal Dutch Packet Company's steamer Le Maire, which leaves Sydney at 10 p.m. to morrow takes away 30 horses for Java.

Cairns Post 6th January 1910.
The steamer Baud, of the Dutch Packet Company, in command of Captain Arnold, arrived yesterday morning, en route to the East, and berthed at the Chillagoe wharf... On board are six mules for Port Moresby and a number of horses for Samarai and Java. The Baud resumed the Journey north in the afternoon.
The Chronicle (Adelaide), 27th May, 1916
Coles & Thomas report having sold privately, on account of C. H. Angus, Esq., Collingrove, eight selected ponies, which were purchased by the Dutch Government for shipment to Java.
The Brisbane Courier, 1st March 1921
Horse Buyers from Java.

A party of Horse buyers from Java, consisting of Major J. G. Pislo, Captain G. Koopman, and Dr. N. Nurmans, passed through Brisbane last night en route to Emerald and other Central Queensland, centres, where they intend to purchase 40o horses for the army in Java.

The Daily Mail (Brisbane) 28th November 1922.
A military commission also arrived in Brisbane from Java yesterday by the Dutch liner Tasman. The Commission comprises Captain W. V. Reimsdyke (leader), Captain L. V, Temmen, and Veterinary Surgeon J. Witjens. In the course of an interview Captain Reimsdyke said that the Commission intended proceeding to the Emerald district to purchase 400 horses for military purposes in Java. He emphasised the fact that the Dutch authorities in Java frequently sent commissions to Australia to purchase horses.


Telegraph (Brisbane) 2nd February 1924.
Among the passengers on tho steamer Roggeveen, which arrived in Sydney yesterday, from Java and Singapore, was a party of Dutch soldiers, who will suporvise the purchase in Australia of about 200 horses for use in the Dutch cavalry in Java. They also will attend them on the voyage to Java. All the arrangements have been made for the transport of the horses, and the purchases have been practically completed by agents in Australia. Nearly 200 horses were shipped from Australia for the Dutch cavalry a little over a month ago.

The Land (Qld) 24th Dec 1925
Horses for Java.
Three hundred and fifty horses, for artillery and cavalry work, are required by the Dutch Government for service in Java. They will be purchased in Queensland and New South Wales. Major Pitlo, Veterinary Surgeon Witjens, and Lieutenant Van Leeuwen have arrived from Java, to select animals. They are accompanied by Sergeant Hoost and six Javanese soldiers. It is proposed to despatch the first lot of 60 artillery horses from Brisbane or Gladstone by the Tasman on her return trip. The remaining 290 will be sent to Java on the Houtman and Le Maire.

The Queenslander, 20th February 1926.
Recently a Dutch steamer, Le Maire, sailed in to take on 200 horses for Java, a job that was carried out in a few hours. The class of horse of light build and neat limbs was idently for cavalry purposes, and they were a particularly fine lot. A military officer with a veterinary surgeon have been round many Queensland stations inspecting and purchasing, and from what can be gathered it is very likely other shipments will follow.

Sydney Morning Herald, 10th November 1927.
Among the passengers by the steamer Tasman from Java, who were released from quarantine on Tuesday, were Lieutenant Colonel W. Van Rlemsdyck, Captain F. Laupman, and Dr. J. Wltjens, of Java, who are visiting Australia in order to obtain horses for the Dutch East Indian military forces.
About 350 horses, said Lieutenant-Colonel Van Rlemsdyck yesterday, were required as remounts It was not anticipated that there would be any difficulty in obtaining the full complement. Most of the horses would probably be obtained in Queensland
Townsville Daily Bulletin, 11th November 1929
270 HORSES FOR INDIA. To purchase 270 Australian horses for the Netherland East Indies Army, Colonel Q. Roopman, accompanied by Captain Veterinary Surgeon W. Strick Van Linschoten and Lieutenant M. P. Stenger, arrived in Brisbane by the T. S.S. Nieuw Holland. The officers intended to buy in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. They left the boat at Brisbane and caught the northern mail last night for Aramac, where they will look for chargers suitable for cavalry, artillery, and mounted artillery purposes. Soldiers to take charge of the mounts will arrive by the Tasman early in December. Of the total 210 horses will be shipped by the Van Spillbergen and 60 by the Tasman.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 15th January 1930.


For Dutch Army. 

The Royal Dutch Packet line steamer Van Spilbergen, which left Melbourne yesterday for Java and Singapore, had on board a consignment of 240 horses. The animals were purchased in Australia for the Dutch East Indian army.


Morning Bulletin. 5th October 1935 

Lieutenant-colonel L. Ph. Van Temmen, of the Field Artillery, Royal Netherlands Indies Army, accompanied by Captain Schummelketel and Dr Farreo, arrived from the South yesterday and left last night for Comet and Duckponds station ; the latter is owned by Mr F. Beazley. The object of the visit is to purchase 126 horsea for Dutch military purposes in the East Indies. "Horses in Queensland are more suited to our requirements than those in the Southern States," said Lieutenant-colonel Temmen. " Horses here are more sober and tractable and aro accustomed to hard work and a hard climate." The horses will be shipped on the Van Kees, which will leave Gladstone early next month.

Queensland Country Life, Thursday 12th Sept 1935

...Three army officers from the Netherlands East Indies are to visit Australia this month to purchase 270 remounts for the Dutch colonial forces. The Department of Commerce at Canberra has been advised that they will require 170 cavalry horses, 43 cavalry officers' chargers, 12 artillery officers' chargers, and 48 draught horses.

Before the depression the trade was a fairly extensive one, and it was not uncommon for shipments of 5000 or 6000 horses to be sent from Australia to the Netherlands East Indies.

Maryborough Chronicle, 5th October 1936


Three Dutch army officials arrived at Brisbane on Saturday by the liner Nieuw Holland to purchase more than 200 horses for military service in the Dutch East Indies. They were Captain K. J. Schummelketei, a Dutch cavalry officer, Dr. W. Paree, army veterinarian, and Captain M. F. Stenger, Dutch army officer. About 150 of the mounts will be shipped from Gladstone, and the remainder from Sydney and Melbourne.


Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton Qld), 6th Dec 1938

Last week the Maetsuyeker arrived and sailed on Sunday after loading 77 horses for Batavia...

The Courier Mail, 21st Oct 1936


Nieuw Zeeland Leaves Port
....At Southern ports she loaded 5o horses for the Netherlands—East Indies Government, and in Brisbane another 50 were placed on board, in addition to a race horse, which was purchased by a private buyer after the ship reached Brisbane...

The Telegraph (Qld), 20th November, 1936.
The Nieuw Zeeland during her stay in Brisbane loaded 49 remounts, polo ponies and one racehorse. In Sydney and Melbourne 66 animals were placed on board.

The Northern Herald (Cairns) 24th Oct 1936

October 20.Dr. W. Paree and Captain   Stenger, of Java, who arrived to-day   from North Queensland, where they bought 152 horses for the Dutch Indian Army, emphasised the value of Australian horses as remounts the army. Some 104 horses were shipped recently by the Van Rees from Gladstone. They said the horses stood up well to the tropical climate.   The visitors left by mail train for Sydney, on their way to buy more horses at Wagga, N.S.W.
The Methodist, 14th November 1936

One is struck with the smallness of the Javanese ponies in Sourabaya. They are tiny little fellows, a little higher but not nearly as heavy as the Shetland ponies. But they appear to be very strong, pulling their little cabs about the streets at a fair pace. When we were passing Dilly, the Portuguese capital of the island of Timor, we saw a tremendous herd of the famous Timor ponies. Some of these are imported to Sourabaya for service there. All the horses used by the Javanese cavalry are imported specially from Australia. I was delighted with the quality of these horses when I saw them trotting back and forth in the military exercises which were going on. The vessel in which I travelled back from Sourabaya has a special system of stalls erected on one of the lower forward decks. All being well, before the end of the year it will carry another consignment of 80 horses for the use of the cavalry. They are not able to lie down for the fortnight during which they are on the water, but apparently they suffer no ill-effects from this.

Sydney Morning Herald Saturday November 20th 1937 

Horses for Sumatra.
Mr. F. Christey is forwarding a shipment of horses to Medan, Sumatra, on Monday. There are 15 ponies, and included in the consignment are the horses Jubilee Son, Ocean Island, Hurricane, and Four O'clock.
Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton) 11th Oct, 1939
Three officers of the Royal Dutch army, Captain K. J. Schammelketel, Lieutenant P. A. Van Rossum, and Dr W. Parree, arrived in Rockhamptonyesterday. Their visit has been in connexion with the purchase 0f remount horses being acquired by the Dutch Government for shipment to Java. The remounts will be shipped in Dutch steamers, 150 from Gladstone, 70 from Brisbane, and 90 from Melbourne Seen after arrival, Lieutenant Van Rossum said that the beasts were unbroken horses and would be used on arrival in Java for artillery and cavalry units of the Dutch forces. The pick of the mounts would be used as officers' chargers. The three officers will leave for the South by air this morning, but expect to be back in Rockhampton within a few days.

The Muswellbrook Chronicle, 18th November, 1947


Pitt Son and Keene Pty. Ltd. report a yarding of 135 Horses at Scone on Wednesday 12th inst.

The yarding included more than the average number of good class stock horses and ponies from district owners with the usual supply of nondescript; and resulted in the best sale for many years for any of the above classes. Draught horse values showed little improvement. Buyers representing the East Indies, Queensland, Sydney, Newcastle, Maitland and local districts operated.
Top price was £59 for a saddle horse purchased by a Queensland buyer. Other good saddle horses sold from £25 to £29; do., ordinary, £10/10/ to £16; piebald pony to £41 and ditto to £33 and £24; other good ponies £12to £20; best young active light draughts broken-in £15 to £66/10/0; ditto un-broken £7/15/0 to £11; young heavy draughts £14 to £18/10/0; good working older draughts £8 to £14; mixed inferior grades at lower prices. Next horse sale, February, 1948.


© Janet Lane 2015. Very happy for anyone to use the information from the blog, to share, just don't copy slabs of my work and say it's yours. Thanks for your courtesy and honesty. The images are not mine so please check it's ok yourself. I have not used any that are copyrighted to the best of my knowledge; there are oodles of top images that sadly are copyrighted I can't use here. And thanks for dropping by!

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