Sunday, 24 May 2015

Walers to Siam 1882 - 1960

King Rama V equestrian statue, Royal Plaza, Bangkok.


Siam is now Thailand. It was Siam in our horse trade days. Siam bought Walers from 1882 until the 1960's - a good trade. Importantly, the trade was good after WW2 - a time it was hard to sell horses.

Siam historically used elephants as prime movers but in the era from the late nineteenth century horses became increasingly important. Roads and streets were built to suit carriages. Cavalry, polo, riding thrived.

To this day Thailand has a marvellous Horse Guard which does duty at the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha, great tourist attractions and add class to army parades. Thailand also has top equestrians of international standard. Ponies were always part of Siam, valued for centuries - Walers continued the love affair with horses that has endured.

Siam was never colonised - unlike the rest of South East Asia. This feat was due to extraordinary diplomatic skills and importantly, keeping an ever-ready army to pounce on attempted invasions; and signing treaties to keep safe - costly in terms of rights and friends. Playing rivals France and Britain against each other was part of the strategy to keep safe. Indeed, Siam sent an embassy to Versailles in 1686-7 for an alliance which caused a sensation and huge interest in Europe. The Siamese brought valuable gifts ranging from gold to cannon, and bought many French made goods to take home.

In 1878 the English bestowed the Grand Cross of St Michael and St George on the King of Siam. These titles were a way of stamping British approval on those they wanted to 'trade' with - true meaning, 'exploit'. A testament however, to his diplomatic skills - appeasing the war mongers without rancour. The King responded by investing Sir William Cleaver Francis, who'd gone to Bangkok with the English award, with the Grand Order of the Crown of Siam.

Map of provinces. 

Source : Wiki.

In 1948, Siam voted to change its name to Mueang Thai - Thailand - 'land of the free' or 'Kingdom of Thai' (translations vary). Thai is a large ethnicity.

There are now 76 provinces, the capital city is Bangkok. Siam was once a far bigger area than the present Thailand.

The primary religion is Buddhism. There is religious tolerance, a hallmark of civilisation; several religions are practised. People have been in the area over 40,000 years. Slavery of its own peoples occurred for a time, as with many countries. Slavery was outlawed by King Rama V in 1905. 

Ponies in ritual... the ordination of young men as Buddhist monks is an important time, a three day celebration of prescribed pattern with the whole community involved, often the initiate is mounted on a horse during one part of this ordination. Small boys and girls are elaborately dressed as Princes and Princesses and taken on horseback to the temple during this ordination tradition.

The Bowring Treaty with England of 1855 favoured British trading rights far more than the 1826 treaty, also blatantly one-sided to cut Siam's rights within its own country. The result of the early unfair treaty and experiences with arrogant British officials - frontmen for a greedy, violent empire - meant in 1852 the Royal Siam Army was formed as a standing army based on the European model. The Navy was established in 1875 as Britain's 'Gunboat Diplomacy' was a threat. 

John Bowring was the Governor of Hong Kong, Britain's envoy. The treaty allowed British citizens to own land in Siam, so a British population infiltrated. British drug dealers in China became the sole opium suppliers to Siam - immensely profitable and kept people as virtual slaves. The growing areas were in India and replaced crops, resulting in widespread famine and deaths of hundreds of thousands. Buddhist monks in Siam became proactive in helping addicts recover, even giving shelter and help to Chinese victims of the opium traders; to this day some monks carry on this humanitarian work helping Thai addicts. This trade gave the British plenty of money and they wanted horses. They and the Siamese wanted to play polo which became another good horse market for us. Polo is also played on elephants.

 Temple horses in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Siam). source

Horses feature in temple wall paintings, statues and architectural carvings throughout Siam, showing a long standing reverence for their equine friends.

Siam had wars with neighbours but as the west loomed its voracious greed for colonies was apparent - France had colonised Indo-China (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) on one side and Britain had Burma on the other side. King Rama III said on his deathbed, 'We will have no more wars with Burma and Vietnam. We will have them only with the west." Siam needed to keep from being colonised.

Thai temple rubbing of a bas relief horse

Captain Louis T. Leonowens, Captain of cavalry. The son of Anna Leonowens  of "The King And I" book and films - corruptions of the real story.  
Captain Leonowens took the first shipments of Walers to Siam.

Siam often featured in Australian newspapers as people became fascinated with this beautiful country where elephants were used instead of horses. However to change with the times the army realised a horsed cavalry would compliment the elephants, so looked for horses for cavalry, Royal and civilian carriages, police mounts, sport, and fire engines. Their native ponies were tremendously hardy and fast but a little small. Firstly they sought horses from nearby Singapore - which itself obtained them from Australia - then turned to us.

Australia was a three weeks voyage from Siam in fast conditions, 5 weeks steaming in normal conditions as ships invariably stopped on the way, usually Java and Singapore. Nevertheless we were the best source for Siam - we had plenty of the right sorts of horses and ponies especially bred for the military and sport. No doubt the Royal families and army personnel, widely traveled and well advised, had seen Australian horses in England and elsewhere in Asia and India where they spent time, and knew their reputation. They came to us for horses and ponies, the first orders filled in 1882.

From Australia, Siam ordered military equipment, harness, stable supplies and carriages - all providing work for Australians. The first order in 1882 was extensive. The Royals approved the quality and more orders followed, another large one in 1888. It's lovely to see small sized carriages were ordered to suit local pony size, as well as larger carriages to suit Walers. The Royal family had their saddles, carriages and tack all made in Australia in those times, an honour for us and great credit to our manufacturers. Hundreds of horses and ponies were also bought. In charge was the interesting character Louis Leonowens, Captain of the Siam cavalry. The start of a long and happy horse trade.

From the late nineteenth century the Royal family of Siam and prominent families sent their sons to be educated at Oxford, strengthening ties with the west. In 1897 the King of Siam saw Carbine in England, he was "enraptured" and asked for a photograph of our equine hero (what better way to Australian hearts!). As many officers in the armies in India took their Waler home when they retired, to take up hunting, no doubt the Siamese heard talk of these horses and saw many. The King after all, rode one.  Carbine too, may have made the King keen to keep buying horses from Australia. They were favorites with Royalty as well as discerning horsemen and cavalrymen. 

Envoys traveled widely and kept Siam up to date with modern ways. Like Japan, the King of Siam wanted the country to modernise. English and French were compulsory subjects at Bangkok schools, and military service was compulsory. Modes of western dress were to some extent adopted by public figures for some occasions, noticably, like most countries, military uniforms became westernised. The Kings made sure people from many countries came to Siam as paid advisers - a tradition going back centuries, it kept Siam abreast of other cultures and military prowess. When these people returned home, they took a deep respect for Siam with them - a great form of diplomacy. Japan for example had good relations with Siam for centuries, Indonesia (as separate kingdoms and as the Dutch East Indies) and India.

It would have been a tightrope, balancing modernising while respecting heritage. It was wise to modernise and learn European ways to keep colonisers at bay - safer than being insular and looked on as vulnerable prey. Britain after all had defeated and occupied neighbouring Burma.

Of course, Australia fell in love with Siam - they traded with us and loved our horses. Politically wise for both of us to be friends, but a great enrichment for Australia to learn the ways of this beautiful and ancient land and be privileged to be its friend, and for Siam to have a friend in the area that was a colony of great western powers. Travelers felt welcome in both countries and shared their experiences when they went home. They still do. Australian prisoners of war in Thailand in WW2 were often kept alive by Thai people smuggling them food at great risk, this kindness has never been forgotten. People still love to travel to Thailand, and in Australia many Thai restaurants thrive - the cuisine is outstanding.

In 1875 Sir Andrew Clarke, on instructions from Britain, traveled to Siam from Australia. Glowing reports of the exotic country were printed in the Australian press, including the Royal white elephants, and that part of the army consisted of amazons - strong female soldiers - but the true nature of his journey was not disclosed. Probably spying or arranging treaties or trade. Trade started with Siam about this time. 

In 1909 Siam signed a treaty with England to stop itself being further eroded with colonial ambitions (it had already given up various trade and tax rights to Britain) - this treaty meant northern states of Malaya - Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu - were let go to the British, causing one of the Malay kings to lament, "We can forgive the buyer, but we can't forgive the seller." Due to various conflicts, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Indo-China all gained parts of Siam too.

The Kings in the time of Walers

King Rama IV... Mongkut ...
King Rama V... Chulalongkorn, the Saintly King...
King Rama VI... Vajiravudh...

Photo: King Rama VI.

At Rama VI's coronation in 1911 - a month long celebration - a Horse Parade was held on the 7th of December where the King rode with the foreign Royals who attended, all on Walers.  

The King had seen the new scouting movement set up by Baden-Powell in England and established scouting in Siam in 1911, as a good way to instill good values in young people. Siam was a charter member of the scouting movement, one of the first countries to take up this movement which was a good way to open up friendly international relations. 

Siam bought a lot of griffins from Australia. These were usually ponies, Siam wanted them about 14.2 hands and no bigger than 15.1 hands - unbroken - for racing. In reality, Siam wanted galloway and horse size griffins! - all other countries took them under 14.2. Pony racing was popular in Australia in colonial days - moreso than Thoroughbred racing. 

Griffins - an untried, unbroken pony of unknown breeding - were sold to China, Burma, Siam, Dutch East Indies, India, Singapore, Malaya (in Kuala Lumpar there was even a Griffin Inn!), Philippines, Hong Kong and all over the place. A few griffins were small thoroughbreds, most were Waler ponies with TB in their background.

In Siam, it was King Rama V who gave land to establish Bangkok racing, the track laid out in 1897. The charter for the Bangkok Sports Club was given by him in 1901. The Club is alive and well to this day. Races are held twice a month. Country races are popular, some have all comers and others seem to be in height classes, with a KPI (Kuda Pacu Indonesia) looking type of small horse, and pony classes. Much of it is like racing in Indonesia - bare back, child jockeys, often no helmet. No doubt gambling is a driving force. And what great riders... here's a film clip of country racing in Yala province of Thailand.

In 1923 Mr. J.P. Powell, a civil engineer, visited Australia. He knew Australia well - earlier he'd moved to Australia from his native home of Ireland, then went to the Boer War in 1900 with the third Queensland Bushman's Contingent. After that war he'd moved to Siam where he'd been since. He was the Handicapper of the Royal Turf Club in Bangkok where all positions were Honorary. He spoke several Oriental languages including four Chinese dialiects. He attended the Spring Carnival here, then went to NZ for the racing before going home. He was in Australia to buy breeding ponies, and bought several top class ponies.

In 1927 Prince Purachatra visited Australia and was interviewed by Frank Russell, resulting in a lengthy article, published in Table Talk 18th August. It was full of praise for the Prince's honesty, education, intelligence and abilities. The Prince was a keen engineer and was proud of the railways started in his country, and also a great diplomat.

An aside on griffins... the noble beast griffin or gryphon, came into being from a series of ancient Greek and Latin puns and sayings meaning a riddle or enigma. After all a griffin is a mixture of other animals, eagle and lion, an impossible creature - is it benign or dangerous? - or neither? An enigma. Most people posted to the colonies had a classical education which involved Greek and Latin. Gryphus (griffin), griphos (riddle) - is a play on words. 

These griphos were riddles of a clever nature often alluding to current politics, a dinner time and drinking sport with the Greeks of yore. This fine tradition of riddling politics is alive and well today - all countries at some stage have reverted to clever riddles in times of repression, when free speech is dangerous. Politicians, invaders, ruling religion have all been subject to humorous riddles of a clever nature. Russians have been renown at griphos down the centuries, not neccessarily that they've had any more repression than elsewhere, it's because Russians have been particularly good at using language.

Griffins being a predator notoriously detest horses and will kill them if possible. Horses therefore are terrified of griffins. For this reason griffins were placed to guard gold treasures from marauding people on horses, as horses always flee at the sight of a griffin. These guard griffins were statues, and gave many a ruler who ordered them a good chuckle, and many people since.  Large statues of mythical animals, making it obvious there is treasure and supposedly making a mounted army flee, makes the strictest King smile. 

This lore gave rise to a Latin saying first mentioned in Virgil - iungentur iam grypes equis - meaning '"when griffins mate with horses" - an expression meaning impossible, as they hate each other. From this arose the impossible beast the hypogriff, a cross of the two animals which came into being as a Greek joke, a Latin pun, and later as an Heraldic beast - further expanding the impossible/enigma theme. 

Real griffins lived in Central Asia where gold came from, according to old lore (Virgil). Gold in small amounts was brought down trading routes - people could not get more gold because of the fierce griffins guarding it, which frightened their pack ponies away.

In 1925 the fossil hunter R. C. Andrews found enormous dinosaur eggs and bones in this area (Mongolia), once thought as evidence of griffins. Enormous dinosaur bones, some with very long necks, have also been found in China... ditto dragons. griffin or dinosaur eggs source 

Thus to buy an untried pony was an enigma, impossible to know what one had bought, form wise. Gone to race griffins... perhaps a description of those posted to colonies.

Griffins raced by the English, Germans, Japanese and Russians stationed in Pekin (now Beijing) usually came from Mongolia, which was nearby. The Chinese liked to use their own ponies, and there were few left over for sale. When Tientsin was taken as a treaty port (the port for Pekin) as a result of the Taiping Rebellion, people were delighted as they could now bring griffins in! In Siam both local ponies and Waler ponies were raced.

Best of all most people could not afford a racehorse but could afford a griffin, so it was open to all, women too enjoyed owning griffins. It brought people together as locals also bought griffins, after all they'd been doing this for centuries before colonials arrived, throughout Asia. The best came from Australia (pardon is my bias showing) but griffins were also bought in country. After its initial (maiden) race they became beloved polo ponies, carriage ponies, race ponies and riding ponies. When they arrived, they were often trained in secrecy so others would have no idea of their form. They could be owner trained or by a professional, whatever one's wallet and abilities ran to. 

The races were great fun, as some griffins were not well trained and ran off the course, or simply refused to get out of a trot, or stopped to graze.

Human griffins: newcomers posted to India and China for the military or civil admin of occupying forces were also called griffins - a slightly derogatory term, as newcomers came with an ignorance of local culture, and often an annoying bravado. Those in country for some time, many for decades, became enlightened and heartily despised the attitude of newcomers. Calling them griffins was a way to bring them down a peg. And of course they could turn out to be winners - or also-rans! In 1937 a woman in Shanghai who wrote under the name "An Australian Griffin" sent reports to Australian papers about living there. 

Siam had a height limit of 15.1 for griffins. They raced griffins far bigger than other countries. China had a lower height, usually their griffins did not exceed 14 hands - most were 13 to 13.2 hands. The racing and sports clubs of Siam had a ballot system for their sale, they were sold untried and with no breeding records. Once about 80 ballots were bought, they would send to Australia for the griffins. Racing griffins was fun as it was like a lottery, pure luck whoever bought the fastest pony. A fun form of subscription racing.

In a 1953 article in the Argus, it said Siam had been getting most of their griffins from Mongolia but war had stopped supply. However earlier, in 1914, an article in the Weekly Times said Australia was the main source (at that time of course). In March 1914, a member of the Royal family, Phya (Count) Asvarbadi, Master of the Horse to the King of Siam, visited Australia with H.G. Tabuteau Herrick, MRCVS (veterinary surgeon) to buy griffins. Asvarbadi said the King had stabling for 300 horses, a fabulous veterinary surgery for the horses, and crossed his Australian horses with Siamese ponies. He was also here to study horse breeding in Victoria and N.S.W.

Racing in Bangkok, 1947. Look like griffins. source

The King mostly bought Thoroughbreds, but some griffins (he had great luck with one he called Lady A) for himself; and of course, cavalry horses for his army. The army at that time was 50,000 strong, cavalry, infantry and artillery; as well as a Navy and Airforce. Each Minister of the government had a foreign advisor, drawn from many countries of Europe and Scandanavia. The King himself had been a cadet at Sandhurst, the elite army training base in England. Everyone loved racing griffins. In 1940 the army had 9 squadrons of cavalry and 13 groups of artillery. In 1950 it was reported many of the remount horses sent were used for breeding, Siam bred its own cavalry horses for decades using Walers, TB's and local ponies.


Numbers of horses... a rough indication only. As most ships called at Hong Kong on the way, one can only list here those found stating they are going to Siam and the number of horses they are taking there. Obviously this list is incomplete...
1882 - 220 + 375 (inc. some ponies)
1888 - 276 (inc. 47 ponies)
1889 - 270 horses (details in news clippings below, many for the King).
1908 -  shipload in June. 
1911 - 100 cavalry ponies average 13 hands, average 5 yrs old for Govt of Siam for cavalry. Australian govt stats for the year say 165 went over. 
1914 - 3,000, included a team of greys for the King's carriage.
1921 - 50 race ponies per Houtman, July.
1923 - 2 ponies on the Alar Star + 2 on the Houtman + shipload for Powell.
1925 - 3 ponies from Dickson on the Houtman.
1926 - 50 ponies March on the Houtman going to Powell. 2 ponies Oct on the Houtman + 18.  6 horses and 3 ponies for Royal Turf Club, January per Houtman.
1928 - 12 ponies with Duval, March on Tasman + 23 ponies for Duval April Tasman
1929 - 12 ponies with W.A. Jones August on Nieuw Holland.
1930 - 45 ponies to National Sporting Club per Nieuw Holland, July, + 30 race ponies April on the Nieuw Holland + 23 ponies Oct Nieuw Holland + 3 ponies on New Zeeland from Dickson. July 90 ponies on Nieuw Holland for Bangkok Racing Club.
1932 - 43 polo ponies for Siam Polo Club + 3 + 80 in June per Nieuw Holland.
1933 - 66 + load went over with W. Jones, a vet, who'd sent many loads over the years (not many loads got in the papers) + 70 in July per Nieuw Zeeland.
1934 - 80 griffins, all mares per Nieuw Holland, October. 48 polo ponies per Nieuw Holland to Singapore then transhipped to Bangkok.
1936 - 41 ponies per Nieuw Holland December
1937 - 34 + 20 + 30 August per Nieuw Holland + 23 per Nieuw Zeeland March.
1938 - 41 ponies per Nieuw Zeeland, September.
1939 - 41 ponies in Dec on Nieuw Holland.
1947 -  85 ponies mares and 2 pony stallions per Pentakota, November, from Curtis Skene for breeding & racing.
1948 - 59 per Nankin, September, all in special boxes. Another load from the Nebo area in Qld. December 19 pony mares for the Siam army went over on the Chanda.
1949 - 98 in March per Okhla, via Singapore then transhipped to Bangkok + 44 + 23 on the Chanda + 46 on the River Mitta in January. The 46 from the ship River Mitta were the subject of an inquiry into cruelty due to the vigilance of Captain White, chief vet in Singapore and ex-Australian Light Horse - Australian handlers cruel handling & beating 2 horses to death during unloading from ship into rail trucks; much outrage here. The horses were unhandled and sent by Australian Bloodstock Ltd, despite the company name they were not TB's. They were loaded in Melbourne and Adelaide and described as brumbies for the Siamese government. The company refused to believe the abuse allegations. Difficulty getting wild horses to the railway was blamed. The horses arrived in poor condition as well as being beaten and the Thai railway authorities refused to load them to travel from the port to Bangkok which says a lot. Good for Thailand! Shortly after the Chanda arrived with a good load of 23 good horses, and the Thai authorities had gone to a lot of trouble to improve ship to rail transfer for horses. The cruelty case failed in court but it made certain shippers take a lot of more care selecting grooms. It was good to know horses were inspected on their travels.
1950 - 800, some per per Nieuw Holland in February + 375 per Querimba, April, for Ivan Hall (went with them).
1951 - 32 mares per Yenping, November.
1952 - 200 +45 + 1 black race mare for the King (named Anna by Pat Rice and ships officers) she'd won several races; + 43 cavalry ponies on the Carpentaria, taken over by Pat Rice.
1953 - 48 + 250 griffins (supplied by R.M.Williams) + 20 ponies + 300 remounts +207 griffin mares with 4 pony mares and 2 pony stallions, November on the Richard D.Lyons + 300 remounts May for A.R. Green of Salyayak Co. Ltd Bangkok.
1954 - 3 pony stallions from Mr H. Vance of Jerarra to the Thai govt + 59 horses on the Nankin in August.
1960 - 98.
1961 - and onward, some but no dates or figures at present. 
2008 - present. Several loads - horses went over from Australian Equine Exporting Services, but have no details at present. 
2017 - 55.

King's horse - in 1952 a beautiful 16 hh black race mare from Queensland was especially selected for the 18 year old King of Thailand. It traveled over with a load of ponies for the army. In 1897 a top quality horse for the Crown Prince had gone over.

There were extra costs sending horses to Siam at times  -  they often needed to be transhipped (changed to another ship) at ports along the way such as Hong Kong, as ships went in another direction.  Another cost was most ships called at Batavia on the way, and here Dutch authorities charged a levy of 5% duty on horses and 6% on fodder passing through. It was fortunate when ships bypassed Batavia and after transactions at Hong Kong or Singapore, went straight on to Siam - professional horse traders would use these ships, and ship owners like Captain Archibald Currie would send his ships this route to help. Currie himself did a lot to open trade with Siam. He respected the King and officials hugely, and went to a lot of trouble to help them. Good friendships were formed. Few men impressed the taciturn Captain Currie but he held particular affection for his Siam business contacts.

Siam is a good example that not all ponies were wanted for griffin racing or pony racing (proven ponies) - many were wanted for cavalry purposes and general riding and harness work.
Above: newspaper photo from the "West Australian" newspaper of October 1953, these are griffins - some were rejected for being too small, before sailing. As well as griffins, ponies and cavalry horses were ordered for Siam at this time; possibly some horse traders got confused... there are horse dealers, and there are horse dealers. Siam did want griffins far bigger than other places, so perhaps a trader hadn't done their homework!

above and below photos taken in 1960 (Australian Archives images)
'Modern armies need horses in spite of mechanisation. Australian horses are favoured for remount purposes by the Royal Thai army and shipments are regularly made from Sydney to Bangkok. A shipment of 96 remounts left on the Nellore. This photograph shows some of the remounts in their special shelters on the deck.'
photographer, W Brindle.

Thai Army officers, Major-General Sangar Vilaithong - Chief of Veterinary and Remount Department - in the centre. On the left is Lieutenant-Colonel Pote Piyarantana. 
The officers toured Australia while on a global tour looking at veterinary procedures, pictured here discussing the breeding of Australian horses popularly used by the Thai Army. The horse is a good Waler type. 1960. Neil Murray photo. Australian Archives photo.

  The wars in the time of Walers...

Franco-Siamese War...  1893.
First World War...
Vichy Indo-China-Siam war... 1941
Second World War...

Elephants. Siam relied on elephants, catching them wild and training them for work. White elephants (in fact a sort of light grey) were very special and kept by the Royal family. The symbol of good fortune is a white elephant. War elephants are simply amazing! There was great excitement in Australia in 1883 when the King of Siam made the Sydney zoo the gift of a male elephant, and the Melbourne zoo a female elephant, both healthy, shipped on the Nelson, a ship used on the previous journey to take horses and harness from Australia to Siam.

"The invaluable services of the elephant for travelling, especially in the wet season, have been mentioned. When, however, the ground is not too swampy nor the jungle too thick, ponies are generally used. The hardy little Siamese ponies, usually not above eleven hands high, have a strength quite out of proportion to their size. They are bred in the upland districts, and some hundreds are usually exported every year from Chiengmai into Burmah. 
Although the Siamese cavalry are mounted on them, their paces are not suited for ordinary riding, and Europeans who wish to indulge in this most healthy of all recreations at Bangkok or Chiengmai, provide themselves with Australian horses or ponies. The latter are also used sometimes in harness, but most people find the native pony more serviceable, if less showy."  
J.G.D. Campbell. Siam in the Twentieth Century, Being the Experiences and Impressions of a British Official, published 1902.

temple painting featuring a horse... many paintings depict the lives of Buddha, this one is the prince Temiya who forsook the crown for the life of a buddhist monk... here he had the strength to pick up a chariot. Painting in Wat Yai Intharam, in Chonburi, Thailand. source

Cavalry... in a 1908 book (Arnold Wright) the Siamese army was reported to be a standing peace time army of 25,000 strong with 1,200 officers, and reserves - first reserves and seconds. Cavalry were issued with a sabre and a 1902 model carbine. Officers went to Germany, Austria, Denmark and England for training. There was also an excellent military school in Siam itself.

Siam cavalry pony, Bangkok, 1895. 

The Royal palace is in the background.

Photo by William Henry Jackson.

This pony looks local Siamese (Thai) of Manipuri descent; one can see the similarity to the modern chestnut Lampang Pony further down the page. This shows a long interest in breeding a good riding type. 
Manipuris were bred for military and sport - not harness. Adding them to the Siamese pony would have complimented the genes. A touch of Australian pony, which also looked much like this one, and Shan Pony (Burma) may have gone into the mix too. A handsome pony of good cavalry type. Photo source

The book Breeds of Empire (details end of blog) discusses horses in Siam with good source references - one source says in the seventeenth century Mughal 'Moors' formed the Royal Guard on horses. Reports of ponies being bought from Java prior to this too, by Siam, horse buyers going there especially, and hundreds being bought. They knew where to find good sorts. The book Asia in the Making of Europe, Vol. III, A Century of Advance, by D. Lach and E. Van Kley, pub. 1998, says the King was accompanied by a horse guard of 150 riders whenever he went out and they were foreigners - being Moors, Mughals, Chinese Tatars, Hindus and Rajputs. This shows a widespread diplomatic circle. All these cultures are great horse cultures  -  the Guard must have been a crack unit. It makes one wonder did horses from these sources come in too. The old book on Siam by Monsieur de la Loubere, link in resources below, mentions there was once a horse guard of 600 Japanese riders. They were a little too good at their job so the King astutely moved them to other things, and put men from Laos and Cambodia in the guard. It appears horse breeding was not greatly carried on in the Middle Ages and on. probably as elephants were the main focus, but horses were always kept for cavalry so were bought in. This indicates a healthy trading empire.

"236 meetings held a year in December (the King's Cup Meeting), February, and April. As a general thing, racing is confined to Siamese ponies, although there are occasional events for Walers and Arabs. The Siamese pony, small though he is (12 hds. 2 ins. is the maximum height allowed), is a wonderful little animal and runs extremely well."
Twentieth Century Impressions of Siam, Arnold Wright, published 1908.

The Burmese next door had always had a small but good cavalry, although they too used elephants mostly. In a war of the eighteenth century when Burma invaded and for a while occupied Siam, they relied on the mobility of cavalry and used cavalry from the next door country, captured cavalrymen and ponies - Manipurs. Being between Burma and India, conflicts meant a good cavalry was vital. The Manipuri pony became legendary.

These Manipuris became the famous Cassay Cavalry of Burma. The Manipuri Pony is a great native pony, fostered to this day although endangered. Manipur actively resisted outside breeding influences better than most areas.  They also resisted colonisation with great diplomacy. The British learned polo here, immediately loved it madly, and took it to the world. 

Burma was harder on horses than Siam, a humid climate, diseases like surra; jungles and mountains - having a breed acclimatised to these conditions was gold. The Manipuri and Burmese Ponies (the Burmese Ponies were also called Shan and Pegu Ponies in times past, these were kingdoms once; some ponies noted for having ancient stripe markings like some Java ponies) were far better than the larger and unacclimatised colonial horses (generally Walers) in most situations there. These outside ponies were useful to add a little height to the Thai ponies.

Manipuri ponies were in the vanguard when Burma invaded Siam. The Burmese in Siam were repelled by the great warrior Taksin the Great, who also took control of Siam and became King, in 1767. He kept the captured ponies - thousands. Hence they would have had an impact on the Thai breeds. He was wise and traded with Britain, the Netherlands and China - this kept them as allies rather than potential enemies. Taksin himself was overthrown by the first King Rama.

King Taksin, equestrian statue, Thailand source

The need for more cavalry was obvious to Siam after that war where cavalry had a vital role. Taksin himself was fascinating, a wise and brave man, his mother was Siamese and his father Chinese - Chinese had settled in Siam for centuries, in various waves when China had difficulties - one big wave when the British and their 7 ally countries were committing outrages in China about the time of the Boxer Rebellion. In fact today Thailand has the largest ethnically Chinese population outside China.

Like in the Dutch East Indies, the smaller stature of most soldiers and difficult terrain meant strong ponies were as good as big cavalry horses and often better in certain situations.

Wars were constant as neighbours invaded Siam, despite valiant fighting and negotiations, various parts were lost at times. The history of Siam before the nineteenth century is fabulous, with brave kings and heroes and heroines throughout the centuries, and a strong warrior tradition due to the need to repel invaders.

Rama V popularised the use of horse-drawn carriages and ordered them from Australia, England and Calcutta. Today, two Royal Carriage Museums are open to the public at Dusit Park in Bangkok, they house thirteen of his beautiful carriages, including the royal glass coach. Dusit Park is the site of the stunning grounds and palace of Rama V, his equestrian statue stands at the entrance.

Royal glass coach of Rama V, King Chulalongkorn, in the museum.

Captured Manipuri ponies and men
 who thence became part of the Burmese army - the famous Cassay Cavalry; a handsome well conformed pony, perfect for cavalry or polo. Cassay was a term used in Burma for Manipur. Kanglei, Kangleipak were also alternative names for Manipur. which became part of India from 1949, but hopes to regain its independence. Just brushing on it here, as it has equine genetic relevance to Siam, as Burma and Siam were often in conflict and the Manipur ponies went to both countries.

The Lampang Pony (Thai Pony) 
source is the Facebook page of the Lampang Pony Welfare Society. Obviously more harness/pack pony than cavalry type. Types vary within the breed, a healthy mix. Uniformity is usually caused by the inbreeding, fatal to any breed.

The Thai Pony is better known as the Lampang Pony. In the northern Lampang province of Thailand, horses and specially built carriages are still used as transport, most as taxis for sightseeing. The Lampang ponies have a great heritage going back to the days of trade with China, when Imperial Cavalry ponies and Celestial Horses would have come in, then more ponies with Ghengis Khan's invasion of both Chinese and Mongolian ancestry; yet more ponies with many years of trade with India, especially with the Mughul dynasty. 

They also bought many ponies from Java over the centuries. Added to this were  the ponies captured from the Burmese. China for a long time did not allow horses to be sold out of the country, but in 1729 they let Siam buy horses, as Siam traded rice there which was vital. page 91.

It was reported in Australia that griffins (unraced ponies) came into Burma and Thailand from Mongolia until the 1950's. Tatars invaded Burma in 1767 with a lot of cavalry ponies that would have left a genetic influence. Tea Horse Road ponies came down from China regularly. Then throw in a little Waler - probably griffins as well as cavalry and carriage ponies, perhaps even a weensy dash of old Thoroughbred, and you get a superb large pony - the Lampang - perfectly equipped for all demanded of it, and perfect for the climate, having evolved there. Many have the head of a horse on a pony body. Some look like elegant small horses, others like ponies. One can google heaps of photos of them pulling the carriages there. Broken colours are also seen.

DNA tests showed only about 30% of those tested (unaware of numbers tested) fitted the genetic profile as defined for the Lampang Pony. The country races certainly show a diversity of types. Always healthy. Hopefully more work will be done on this... information from this good article.

Magnificent Lampang/Thai Pony from the Lampang Welfare Soc FB page.

This genetic heritage gave the Lampang classic South East Asian breeding, much the same as Indonesian ponies. Ponies were at the best in Asia at the time. Their lineage should trace back through Asia to China and Mongolia and India, and down through Indonesia. DNA tests seem to prove this. There may be a little Australian blood in the mix, although this area is in the north and the ponies managed to avoid outside influence for a long while, it would be hard to avoid it in the time of the cavalry. It's great these ponies still have a use - while a breed has a use, it stays strong

Lampang Pony and carriage, Lampang. What beautiful ponies they are.
source, this blog. The carriages are wonderfully cared for, and the horses too.

Horses adapt well to their environment - over time - so of course a Thai pony/horse would have evolved from the influences brought into the country and become unique in its adaptions for its country. They may have been there all along, for millenia, simply modified by imports. All old accounts mention the Siamese ponies. If there was indeed a pony existing in Thailand long before written records, no doubt it was taken elsewhere in horse trading days and contributed to other breeds itself. Trade is always a two way street.

The Department of Livestock, Animal Breeding Division (Thailand), the Lampang Pony Welfare Foundation and the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Mahidol University are co-operating to investigate ancient origins of the Thai horse/pony as well as conservation of the breeds

As Thailand was once a giant empire, it is not hard to see horses/ponies would have had all the influences of neighbouring countries, and contributed genes back. Royals invariably presented each other with horses as prime gifts, let alone normal trade. It was not until the country became smaller in relative modern times that the pony became more genetically isolated. Then Australian horses and ponies came in. 

The pony is integral to the heritage of Thailand. Trading posts in Siam for centuries, meant Arabs , Chinese and Japanese had been trading there, as well as traders from India and Indonesia. The Portugese set up trading posts there in the sixeenth century and they too were great horse traders.

As well as horses, Australian horsemen too went to Siam - Fred Billet for example, went there in 1920 and trained racehorses for the King. He took 50 horses with him and stayed there many years. Sergeant R. W. Livermore of the NSW Mounted Police went over there in 1957 to help advise about police horse training and care.

Veterinary and Remount Department... During the reign of King Rama V, the much loved 'Saintly" king and a great buyer of Walers, an equine veterinary department was established in 1910, as part of the army. In 1912 under the guidance of his son Prince Tongteeayou Tongyat, the army established the first of two veterinary schools. The Thai government still has a veterinary department which takes care of several productive species, as well as military horses. 

Franco-Siamese war 1893... Basically, France tried to take the area of Laos which was part of Siam. Expecting British help, Siam resisted. The British help was not forthcoming, so in the end faced with overpowering military action and a naval blockade, Siam had to give France a huge chunk of it's area, Laos. Australia sold horses for this conflict to Siam. Australia was concerned about French aggression and looked on Siam as an ally, Asia is our neighbourhood.

In 1900 the British set up a horse base at Garga, Borneo, to counteract France's build up of forces in Indo-China. Can't find us supplying Borneo unless the Dutch took horses there. The Brits brought out a mounted regiment from England with horses for this Garga base. We sent horses with our troops in WW2 to Borneo. But not a market.

Territory Siam lost, to whom, and when. 

Below is a map with current names and borders of countries of the area. Migration & trade routes are logical.

First World War... Siam was the only independent Asian country to send ground troops to Europe in WW1, and was involved with the war for two years, declaring war on Germany in 1917 and seizing Germans in their country, and German ships in their waters. Siam joined the Entente Powers (Russia, France, UK and Ireland). For helping in the war many of the unfair treaties were stopped - although territories were not returned - Britain had also taken parts of Northern Malaya in 1909. Unfair trade treaties with the powers were either cancelled or modified to be more just. We sent horses to Siam in WW1.

Between wars... horse trade went on...

Second World War... Siam was renamed Thailand in 1939, then reverted to Siam, then became Thailand again in 1948, Thailand by now had a good air-force. As well as the Allies and Axis countries fighting each other there were Asian conflicts going on. And wrongs by colonial powers to be righted.

Thailand saw the opportunity to regain Laos and Cambodia, and used air power, but the French fought back and their navy was particularly good. The Japanese intervened to bring about a peace in 1941. In December 1941 they turned coat - Japan attacked Siam - as it was a useful route to British Malaya and British Burma, desired for their oil and rubber. This way Japan had the bulk of the world's rubber supplies. They were very determined. Siam had little choice - after initially fighting they made peace with Japan and let them use Thailand to get to Malaya and Burma - Japan took over all railways, roads and infrastructure.

What began as an alliance became an occupation. The Allies now saw Siam as an enemy and bombed Bangkok and parts of Thailand. At war's end, the territories Thailand had regained had to be handed back to the French and British. The war proved to Thailand how handy good pilots and airpower was in difficult terrain - once only accessible with much difficulty, on foot or pony.

We sent horses to Siam/Thailand in WW2 - even although they technically became our enemy, horses went before the Japanese invasion-occupation. One must remember the Japanese took a lot of Walers to Burma and Thailand in WW2 as well.

Thai cavalry parade 1940. source

Post WW2... In 1949 Captain V. Buranasire and Captain P. Sarchitti, both vets, came to Australia to select horses for crossbreeding with local Thai ponies for the cavalry.
In 1960 Major-General S. Vilaithong, chief of the remount and veterinary department, with Lieutenant-Colonel P. Piyarantana, chief of Administration of this department, visited Australia to look at horses and at breeding practices.

Thai military officers came over regularly, not always to do 
with horses.

From 1961 on, Siam found communist wars in neighbouring countries were a threat. Thailand and western empires fought the communists of Vietnam and Khymer Rouge of Cambodia, all this spilled over into Thailand at times and there were ongoing fights with Laos. A terrible time for the whole area. There was civil unrest in Thailand a lot of the time too. Usually it was resolved without much bloodshed. In fact only recently, 2014, was another coup. Thailand usually features as the world's least miserable country in happiness indexes - hence it's name of 'the land of smiles.' Behind a lot of unrest are the manipulating hands of evil empire as always, these days being America.

We sold horses to Siam after WW2; the country regained independence from the Japanese at war's end and trade resumed with Australia. It was a good market for us - cavalry horses, griffins, polo ponies and at last becoming Thoroughbreds only. In 1956 under the Colombo Plan we sent 15 horses as a gift to Thailand for the Thai Red Cross, for making snake-bite serum. Horses that are used for this must be large. This serum was given free to victims by the Thai government.

In 2017 it was a great honour for Australia that the Royal Thai Army's 29th Cavalry, King's Guard, came here to select 55 horses to take part in the funeral of their beloved King, also highly regarded in Australia - His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej; in October that year. The horses went over after Australian vets also inspected them for health, and time in quarantine. The Thai cavalry men selected for temperament which was good to see, as well as conformation and health. Government officials such as from the Department of Agriculture also expressed honour at having Australian horses selected. It was much written up here in the news and in government publications. Australian Equine Exporting Services arranged the sale of the horses, they have been supplying horses to Siam since 2008, many for cavalry. All for this order were to be dark brown or black, 16 hands, and young. The horses took part in the 6th procession of transferring the Royal ashes from the temple of the Emerald Buddha to the place of enshrinement.

2018 three horses from Euralla stud selected for the King of Thailand's police force. They were Thoroughbred, Australian Stock Horse, Friesian crosses. Two dark horses and one grey. Usual careful selection process of vet checks etc.

If only Walers were not rarenow, and there were good Waler breeders able to supply these modern markets. The danger being, of course, that fakes might ruin everything including markets - being utter rubbish. Caveat Emptor!

Siam was a marvellous market for Australian horses for many decades, including when it became Thailand. Another great ride through history in an amazing land, on the wonderful wonderful Waler. Thank you Thailand!

Don't know which horse breed the cavalry uses now, but will post here when I find out. Perhaps there is still some Waler blood. New Zealand supplied 21 horses at one stage, of sport horse breeding, source.

Royal Cavalry on guard duty - both guarding the special places and protecting tourists at the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha; and being a tourist attraction in themselves. source

Wanchana Sawatdee, an officer in the Thai Royal Cavalry, acted in this film about King Naresuan, as he was such an accomplished rider. In the era this film is set in, Siam was far bigger than today - horses were vital for war and peace. This was a time kingdoms of Burma were invading Siam in the sixteenth century.
source with good info on these tremendous films.

monks from the Golden Horse Monastery collecting alms source


Breeds of Empire: the Invention of the Horse in Southeast Asia and southern Africa 1500-1950. Greg Bankoff and Sandra Swart, NIAS Press 2008. 

News articles

The Argus (Melbourne) 19th September, 1882

Mr D. Allson, of Bourke street west, has manufactured to the order of the King of Siam a very large collection of saddles, sets of harness, and other articles. For some time past Captain Louis T. Leonowens of the Royal Siamese Cavalry, has been in Melbourne, entrusted with authority to effect some important purchases for the King. He has obtained, among other things, a costly and handsome drag and numerous horses and ponies for the Royal equipage. The order for the large collection of harness, &c., which was required was given to Mr Altson a month ago, and has now been completed. As may be readily imagined by all who have acquired any knowledge of the most striking features of the Court of Siam, these articles have been manufactured in a style which indicates a lavish expenditure, and a determination to spare nothing which could add to their embellishment and completeness Some of the sets, indeed, are such that even an Oriental potentate might be disposed to reserve them more for ornament than for any practical use. Chief among the collection is a state saddle for the King, made of the finest white doeskin ; the Royal crest, elaborately worked in solid gold bullion, adorns it in various places ; the breast plate and bridle are richly ornamented after the same style ; the flounce is of scarlet, and a rich military cloth of scarlet, ornamented with the Royal arms and golden tassels, is to be used underneath the saddle. There is also a set of four horse state harness. All the buckles, rings, and other metal parts are of bright silver, bearing the Royal arms, and surmounted in some places by miniature gold elephants ; the pad cloths are scarlet and gold, the collars ornamented with scarlet borders, and the whole of the various portions are elaborately finished so as to present the most showy appearance. In contrast to these are the sets manufactured for the Queen, which are in a more quiet and subdued style. These bear the Queen's crest in several places, and the pad cloths collar rims, &c , are of scarlet and white. For the young princes of Siam there is a costly set of harness for four ponies, which is as nearly as possible a counterpart of that made for the King. Four sets of fire brigade harness, fitted with bells and with springs at the buckles so as to insure rapidity in handling them, are also included in the collection. For the youngest members of the King's family there are provided pony chairs, made of morocco, hogskin, and wicherware, and children's saddles for their future use, while parasol-whips are also supplied for them. Outside of the Royal family, the commander in chief, captain, and officers of the cavalry are obtaining handsome white doeskin saddles, &c. The collection altogether comprises nearly 26 sets of harness, an immense stock of whips of every variety, including a very valuable one mounted in solid gold for the King's brother, and a host of minor articles, such as stable requisites, of each variety of which 200 or 300 have been ordered. The manufacturer has done his work with commendable completeness and excellence of finish. The goods will be exhibited for only two days at Mr Altson's shop as they are to be shipped soon. These, together with the drag, ponies, horses, &c., will be shipped direct to Siam by special steamer.


Portland Guardian (Vic), 3rd October 1882.

SHIPMENT OF HORSES, &c., TO SIAM. Captain Leonowens, who has been in the colony during the past few months contracting certain purchases on behalf of the King of Siam, has just completed the series of extensive transactions entrusted to him and is about to return. The last transaction concluded is the purchase of a large shipment of horses, consisting mostly of that useful class bred on the eastern pastures of our colony. The shipment comprises 220 in all. The bulk are for ordinary cavalry purposes and are light muscular animals, chosen with an eye to the especial requirements of the light weight horsemen in Siamese cavalry service. Of the remainder about 50 are very superior carriage horses, also trained for the saddle. Thirty are officers' chargers; and there are seven ponies of neat compact form for the state pony drag. The whole are being shipped on board the Nelson, a craft in the China service, which will leave this port for Siam direct. The horses will occupy comfortable berths on board, and a staff of competent hands has been engaged to look after them on the trip round. This is the first shipment of the kind that will have taken place in regard to the Siamese Government from Australia. Besides the horses being shipped by the Nelson, a collection of zoological specimens of Australian fauna is being taken as follows :-1 calii, kangaroo, 2 opossums, guinea-pigs, dingoes, 24 parrots, 15 cockatoos. and 2 Australian eagles, these being the gift of the Victorian Zoological Society. There are also two large emus, the gift of the Sydney Society. In return for these, it is intended that an elephant and a tapir shall be presented to Australia. A varied and valuable collection of ferns also goes by the same vessel. All the other purchases made by Captain Leonowens, which in the aggregate amount to a good round sum, are also included in the same bill of lading. Captain Leonowens anticipates paying another visit to Victoria on a similar errand in about twelve months time. Now stables have been built especially for the reception of the animals now taken, further extensions will, he expects, necessitate further purchases in the time named.


In a recent issue of The Argus some particulars were given of extensive purchases of carriages, saddlery, &c, made for the King of Siam, by his representative Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi. This officer was also commissioned to purchase a number of horses for the King's army. His mission has now been so far completed that horses, carriages, saddlery, &c., have been shipped on board the steamship Clitus which will leave the bay late to night or early to morrow morning for her destination. The Clitus was in fact ready for sea last night but Colonel Siddhi intimated that he would prefer the people on the steamer having their Christmas holiday in port instead of at sea. 

His carriages and other articles were put on board last week and the horses were walked on yesterday. The horses selected by Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi comprise 156 for cavalry remounts, 34 greys for the officers, three chargers for the King, 20 carriage horses for pairs and four-in-hand teams, also for the King, and a thoroughbred for the Crown Prince. There are also four chargers for the generals and 11 other horses for fire brigade purposes. In addition to the foregoing there are 10 mares for stud purposes. A string of ponies, 47 in all, has also been secured by Colonel Siddhi. Of these 14 are for the King's stables and 12 are for the Crown Prince's establishment. Colonel Laung Nai Siddhi is himself a cavalry officer and it is said that he has made an excellent selection. 

The horses and ponies are all well bred and of stylish appearance and it is an understood thing that they will be well adapted for the work required of them. This is the second occasion on which the King of Siam has sent to Victoria for horses and saddlery, and there is reason to believe that further business will be done between Siam and Melbourne. Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi has taken note of the place and people since he has been here and he is more than pleased with the result of his observations. He found time to pay a flying visit to Sydney and with the beauties of Port Jackson he was specially delighted. As a laid out city he gives the preference to the Victorian capital. Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi has chartered the Clitus, owned by Archibald Currie and Co , of this port for the conveyance of the horses to Siam. It is somewhat of a coincidence that in 1856 when a treaty for commercial purposes had been concluded by the King of Siam and Great Britain. Captain Currie then in command of the Elizabeth of Melbourne, was one of the first shipmasters to visit Bangkok and purchase a cargo there under the conditions of the treaty. 

A profitable, in fact a lucrative, trade was done with Siam in those days, and Captain Currie has an exceedingly pleasant recollection of it. It is a further coincidence that the father of Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi was one of the Siamese ambassadors to Great Britain charged with the rati- fication of the treaty. As commemorative of the circumstances, Captain Currie sends a letter to the King of Siam, narrating them, and praying his acceptance of a pair of carriage horses. His horses are well matched, and of handsome build and they have been entrusted to Colonel Siddhi for presentation. 

Captain Currie in his letter expresses a hope that the king, after hearing the representations of Colonel Siddhi, will give his countenance to the promotion and encouragement of further and still friendlier relations between Siam and Victoria. Specimens of Australian birds and animals are also being taken to Siam by Colonel Siddhi. Mr. Richard Carter, who has been acting as secretary for Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi during the stay of the latter here, goes on to Siam with him. 

The Clitus, it will be recollected, was built especially for the Calcutta trade and the conveyance of horses, and on her last trip hence, out of a large total of 354 horses only three were lost. It is to be hoped that she will be equally fortunate on this occasion. The Clitus goes hence to Singapore and then to Bangkok and after landing the horses she will proceed to Java, and thence via Port Dar- win to Sydney. The steamship Bucephalus of the same line, was the first Melbourne-owned vessel to open communication direct with Calcutta, and during the four years and a half that she has been running she has carried thousands of horses. It is a noteworthy circumstance that the losses in that period have been barely 2 per cent. a singularly small average. The Bucephalus is now on a trip from New Zealand to India with horses.

Evening News, 7th January, 1889

AUSTRALIAN HORSES FOR SIAM. — A market has been opened up for Australian horses in Siam. On Boxing Day a valuable shipment of 270 Australian bred horses and ponies left Melbourne for Siam. They were selected in the sister colony by Colonel Luang Nai Siddhi for the King of Siam. They consist of 156 horses for the cavalry, 34 greys for the officers, 3 chargers for the King; 1 thoroughbred, a magnificent black animal purchased from Mr. George Glasscock, for the Crown Prince ; 4 chargers for generals, 11 horses for fire brigade purposes, a pair of carriage horses presented by Captain Currie to the King, and 47 ponies for the stables of the King and the Crown Prince.

Albany Advertiser, 14th August 1897
The King of Siam.
London, Thursday.

The King of Siam has visited the Duke of Portland's place at Welbeck and went into raptures over Carbine. He asked for a photograph of the horse.


Sydney Morning Herald, 23rd March, 1914.SIAM.

An interesting visitor to Sydney is Phya Asoabadi, a Siamese nobleman, Master of the Horse to the King of Siam, who is accompanied by Mr. H. G. Tabuteau-Herrick. They arrived from Melbourne by the express on Saturday, and will remain about a month in New South Wales, and then proceed to New Zealand. After touring the Dominion they will return to Sydney, and travel back to Siam, via Queensland and Java. The mission of the visitor, who is addressed by those in his entourage as "his Excellency," is to study horse breeding in this city. 

When interviewed, he stated that he had charge of about 300 horses for the King, who was a good judge of horseflesh, and liked to have the very best. Most of them were used for State functions, such as processions. The others were racehorses, a great proportion of which were bred in Australia, their climate not being suitable for English horses. Racing was very popular in Siam, the chief event being the King's Cup. He had attended a couple of race meetings held in Melbourne, and was pleased with the appointments of the courses. He would probably take some Australian horses back with him. What they wanted were remounts and chargers, as well as racehorses.

Very few Australians, he went on to say, realised how up-to-date Bangkok was, and what a progressive place Siam was generally. The population of the country was between 10,000,000 and 12,000,000. They had compulsory service, and an army whose strength and efficiency would certainly be an eye-opener for Australians if they could, see it. They had a flying corps with a fleet of 18 aeroplanes. Their navy was small, but Siam did not have the same necessity for sea defence as other nations.


Newcastle Sun, 23rd July, 1930.
Maitland Horses Shipped
Forty-five pony mares were loaded on the Nieuw Zeeland in Sydney yesterday by Mr. J. S. O'Donnell, of West Maitland. for shipment to Bangkok, Siam, where they will be used for racing. The ponies are 14.2 hands high and have been broken into the saddle.


The Telegraph, 27th July 1933

Brisbane Telegraph, 30th August 1954
Singleton Argus, 24th June 1932

Evidence of the growth of European sport in the East was given when the Dutch liner Nieuw Holland left for Singapore and Sourabaya carrying 43 polo ponies for the Siam Polo Club at Bangkok. Australian ponies and horses have been sent to the Malay States, Siam, and the Dutch East lndies for some years, and many of the requirements of the Dutch army in Java and Sumatra have been filled by Australian horses.
Daily Mercury (McKay, Qld) 11th October, 1948.

DURING the past weeks a horse buyer operating in the Nebo district has purchased more than a score of horses for export to Siam. All locally bred, the horses are from several stations in Nebo district. Drovers are taking the horses to one central marshalling point whence they will be driven to a rail head. The horses will be railed to the south for shipment to Siam. Before the war the Mackay district had a considerable remount trade with the East and breeding of horses for this purpose was an important industry.
The Northern Miner (Qld), 7th July 1914.
Space on two steamers has been secured by Mr. Phys Asavabada, master of the horse to the King 0f Siam, for the 130 horses which he has purchased in New South Wales and Queensland for the King of Siam's stud, and the animals are expected to leave here next month. Mr Asavabada, who, with his veterinarian, Mr. H. G. Tabuteaun-Herrick, left Sydney by the Montoro, stated to a "Daily Telegraph" representative that these last purchases brought hisaggregate of horses bought by him in Australia up to something like 3000. " We like the Australian horses best,' 'he said, "because the climate bere and that of Slam is somewhat similar, and the Australian horses appear to stand better than those of England." Of the 130 horses which have just been purchased by Mr. Asavabada,there are a team of grey for the King's State carriage, 20 other horses, 20 also for tbe police, and some for polo, and the remainder will be utilised possibly for experimental pur- poses in connection with remounts for the Siamese army. Mr. H.G. Tabuteau-Herrick is taking back with him large quantities of specimens in the shape of grasses and fodder which will be utilised for experimental purposes also. The visitors expect to reach Siam about the end of the present month.

National Advocate (NSW), 1st November, 1949HORSE BUYERS FROM SIAM
SYDNEY, Monday.

Two Siamese cavalry officers, who arrived here today will travel Australia seeking horses suitable for cross-breeding with Siamese ponies. They are Capt. V. Buranasire and Capt. P. Sarachitti, both veterinary surgeons. The Siamese Government planned large-scale cross-breeding to provide for cavalry needs and agricultural and domestic demands.
Dungog Chronicle, 28th November 1947.

The Pentakota (6700 tons) will load 87 horses for Bangkok, Siam, at New-castle in mid-December. Mr. C. Skene, of Campbelltown, who is consigning the horses, said they had been bred in various parts of New South Wales. In Bangkok, they would be used for breeding. Mr. Skene said it was more convenient to ship the horses from Newcastle than from Sydney. The horses will be transhipped at Singapore.
The Daily News (Perth W.A.), 24th March 1949

The Okhla, which reached Fremantle from the Eastern States yesterday, is carrying 98 horses— remounts for the Siamese Army. They will be unloaded at Singapore.

Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Tuesday 17 May 1949

Horses On Ship
For Singapore

Forty-four brumby horses, housed in loose boxes on the afterdeck of the 6,957-ton British-India Line freighter Canda, which sailed from Hobart last night, are bound for Thailand, via Singapore.

The animals were loaded in Melbourne. Each horse has a separate stall and feedbox. They will be at-tended by a groom.

The ship loaded fruit and general cargo at Hobart for Singapore and Indian ports. She sailed for Adelaide.

Northern Miner, 6th February, 1950
To Breed Charges For Siam

Australian racehorses are being used in Siam to breed mounts for cavalry-men. 

On board the Nieuw Holland are the Sydney horses Saratoga and Danger. Saratoga and 22 mares are the last of a total of 800 horses for the Siamese Army, which will use them for breeding. 

Mr Allan Hobbs, of Sydney, who has charge of the horses, took 110 horses to Abyssinia last December for the Abyssinian army.

Six untried Sydney geldings are travelling by the ship to enter racing stables at Koala Lumpur, in Malaya, for a Mr Martin and a Colonel Pox, two former Australian racing men.

Townsville Daily Bulletin, 20th April 1950.

BRISBANE. April 19.— One hundred and fifty-five horses from North-West Queensland were loaded aboard the British-Indian Line ship Querimba for Siam to-day. The vessel will leave Brisbane to-morrow night with 375 horses aboard. The ship was built specially, 25 years ago, for horse carrying between Australia and India. It's hold is fitted up like a stable, with hundreds of stalls. Ivan Hall, who has been transporting horses overseas under contract to foreign Governments for 37 years, told of the decline in the horse trade since 1913. He said in 1913, one Queensland agent sent 32,000 horses away in one year, compared with about 1,000 a year now. Horses delivered to India from Australia at £10.10 a head in 1913 cost £73 a head to-day to private persons and £30 to the Government. The quality of horses had deteriorated 50 per cent. Hall travels extensively in Australia buying horses for the over- seas trade. He will accompany the horses on the journey to Bangkok.
Courier Mail (Qld) 1st February 1950
AUSTRALIAN racehorses are being used in Siam to breed mounts for cavalry men. On board the Nieuw Holland, to leave for Singapore and Indonesia tonight, are the Sydney horses Saratoga and Danger. Saratoga and 22 mares are the last of a total of 800 horses for the Siamese army, which will use them for breeding. Mr. Allan Hobbs, of Sydney, who has charge of the horses, took 110 horses to Abyssinia last December for the Abyssinian army.
Wagga Wagga Express, 9th June 1900
According to the "Live Stock Journal," horse-breeding in all parts of India has its difficulties. Latterly the Imperial -Government have been trying to encourage pony breeding in the Manipur State, but the officers who visited the country reported that there were extremely few decent stallions to be seen. It has since been ascertained by some sympathetic traveller, who could induce the Manipuris to discuss matters with him, that the people do not understand that the methods of the British Government differ from those of their own chiefs who formerly ruled them. The Rajab, it seems, used to insist upon buying any foal he might fancy at his own price, and as be bought through a chief who bought through some under-strapper, it may be easily conceived that the price received by the owner of the foal was small when it reached him. Under these circumstances the owners of good stallions keep them carefully hidden away in the jungle; in short, Manipur horse-breeding had been a regular hole-and-corner business, which knowledge of British methods will eventually change for the better.


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