Arabian horses were introduced to Australia in the earliest days of European settlement. They were imported in the ships bringingonvicts and settlers, and many came via India, to upgrade the pool of horses available for everyday use. They were also used in the breeding of racehorses and some of them became quite famous as such. About 1OO Arab sires are included in the Australian Stud Book [for Thoroughbred Racehorses]. They were part of the foundation of several breeds we consider uniquely “Australian” such as the Australian Stud Book Pony, the “Waler” and the Australian Stockhorse.

Purebred Arabian horses were imported from the late 17OO’s but most of their progeny were “lost”, historically speaking, as there were no Purebred mares, and there was no Australian Arab Horse Stud Book in which to record their progeny.

Significant sires such as HADBAN and KARS slipped through the net, with no Purebred progeny recorded, although informally we know that a number existed.

Sir James Penn Boucaut, the Governor of South Australia and a Supreme Court Judge, was one of the first to breed Purebred Arabian horses in a recognized breeding program, though he registered all his young stock in the Stud Book of the British Arab Horse Society. He imported two stallions and four mares in two groups in 1891 and 19O1. The British Arab Horse Society was happy to accept the Colonial horses for registration, and continued to do so from 1919 until at least 196O. Many of the early breeders such as Mr A.J. McDonald of “Tehama Stud” NSW, Mr A.E. Grace of Bowral and Denman NSW, and Mr J.F. Jelbart of “Stony Park East” NSW, used this facility, and so lines of proven Purebred Arabian stock were established.

Most of the colts from these early breeding programs were sold into the country, and all over the country from Melbourne to Darwin and all places in between. In the more populated areas, Agricultural Shows were held, with, in time, classes for Arabian horses, although there was no stipulation that these had to be registered.

Sydney’s Royal Show was first held in 1824 and was named the Parramatta Fair. It moved to Prince Alfred Park near Central Railway Station in 1869, and thence to its Moore Park site in 1881, where it remained until 1997. Results of Arabian classes exist from 1871 when the class for Arab Stallions of any age was won by AMEER a bright bay, 9 years, owned by James White of Martindale, Denman. Second was BOURNON a grey of 21 years, owned by A.A. Dangar of Baroona, Singleton. The first horse was desert-bred, while the second came from the stud of the King of Wurttemberg, Stuttgart, Germany.

First Steps

Several early attempts were made to found The Arab Horse Society of Australia before World War II. The first of these was held on March 3Oth 1937 at the Sydney RAS Grounds. Present at this meeting were Mr C.A. Copeland [Chairman], Mrs E. Bull, Messrs T.W. Butt, W.L.S. Cooper, and J.F. Jelbart, who formed the first Council. Also present were Messrs D.P. Copeland, J.J. Carrol and L.J. Stevenson. A motion to form the Society was duly moved and carried. A proposed Constitution was presented, and a membership subscription of one guinea was approved. Plans for the first Stud Book were discussed, with a provision for the registration of Part Arabs [or “Austral Arabs” as was first discussed] and Anglo Arabs in separate registers. During 1937 for the first time the Arab Classes at Sydney Royal carried the proviso “only horses registered in a recognized Stud Book for Arabs will be eligible”.

Although several meetings were held, the Society struggled for members. Mr Joseph Jelbart had been appointed by the British Arab Horse Society to represent its interests in Australia. He did much to bring Arab horses to public attention. His own horses became the foundation of the NSW Department of Agriculture Studs at Hawkesbury and Wagga Wagga.

World War II intervened, with the Society no closer to establishing a Stud Book.

An Advisory Committee to the R.A.S.

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW then took a hand, inviting a committee of Arab breeders to be established, in line with other breed societies of the time. Acordingly, a group of breeders met in Sydney on April 1Oth 195O. Those in attendance were – Mesdames M. Leicht, E. Lock, A.D.D. Maclean, E.M. Scott, and Messrs R. Best, R.B. Campbell, J.E. Lock, M.L. Scott, E.E. Toms and F.W.K. Wise.

Past Chairman W.J.B. Murphy

The first Advisory Committee was formed at a second meeting held on the 14th September 195O. It comprised – Mr R.B. Campbell [Chairman], Mesdames R.R. Bligh, E.E. Hirst, M. Leicht, A.D.D. Maclean, A.E. Toms, and Messrs C.G.F. Grant, J.F. Jelbart, J.E. Lock, W.J.B. Murphy, M.L. Scott, E.E. Toms and F.W.K. Wise. This committee was to assist in the “collection and maintenance of records of Arab, Anglo-Arab and Part-bred Arab horses in Australia”. It had no funds and no authority, and the personnel changed from year to year. The RAS accepted and recorded registrations of Arab horses, but most of the leading breeders continued to register with the British Arab Horse Society which printed regular Stud Books.

As the breed increased in popularity, it was felt the time had come to form an autonomous society to cater for its needs. A meeting for this purpose was held in Melbourne on the 19th September 1956, attended by – Mr W.J.B. Murphy [Chairman], Miss A.R. Morris, Mesdames M. Bain-Smith, M.F. Gibson, M.D. Lewis, J. Luckock, A.D.D. Maclean, Messrs B. Eltringham, T. Osborn and R.C. Vial. Apologies were received from Mesdames C. Cornish and M.Leicht and Messrs R. Best and J. Hearne.

It was resolved at that Meeting to form The Arab Horse Society of Australasia, with the inaugural meeting to take place in Sydney during the period of the 1957 Royal Easter Show. It was also resolved that those persons present at the inaugural meeting, as well as those who expressed an interest and paid their subscriptions, would be accepted as foundation members.

Those 47 persons who attended the inaugural meeting, or who otherwise became eligible for foundation membership were –

Mrs R.R. Bligh
G. Coleman
C. Cornish
S. Christie
E.E. Hirst
M. Leicht
D. Lewis
J. Luckock

A.D.D. Maclean
I. McKenzie, D. Musgrave
I.E.R. Schwilk
C.G. Tucker
R.L. Wilkinson
Miss A Bligh
E. Bligh
V. Dempsey

M. Hirst
R. Judson
M.  Macqueen
A.R. Morris
R. Sayer
J. Scott-Williams
L. Stokoe
L. White

Mr W.J. Baker
R. Best
K. Biggs
D. Bott
B. Eltringham
K.T. Esler
R. Gerritsen
H.G. Johnston

Dr C.A.C. Leggett
Mr W. Leicht
R.J. Moss
W.J.B. Murphy
NSW Dept of Agriculture
Mr C.J. Old, L. Osborn

G. Prince
J.J. Sawdy
F.R. Staunton
A.C. Supple
H.C. Thackeray
L.H. Thring
D.N. Wilkerson.

The first Council was elected at the meeting of April 17th 1957 during Sydney Royal Show.

President – Mr W.J.B. Murphy
Vice-President – Mrs E.E. Hirst
Treasurer – Mrs M. Leicht
Members – Mrs R.R. Bligh, Mrs M.D. Lewis, Mrs A.D.D. Maclean, Miss M. Hirst, Miss M. White, Mr W.J. Baker, Mr F.R. Staunton.
Secretary – Lieut-General Sir Frank Berryman K.C.V.O., C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O. [the Director of the Sydney Royal Show].

The membership fee was set at two guineas per annum and the RAS was asked to assist in financing the printing of the first Stud Book.

The new Society decided that its most important function was to preserve the purity of the breed, and with this in mind it set in place provision to henceforth record all matings and foalings, but firstly to investigate all existing pedigrees, before publishing its first Stud Book. It also took under its wing Anglo and Partbred Arabs. A Partbred Arab had to possess at least 5O% Arab blood, while an Anglo Arab was the product of Pure Arab and Thoroughbred breeding. The early meetings of the Society were dominated by the investigation of the provenance of those horses whose owners claimed them to be Pure, Part or Anglo Arabs.

Society Patroness Mrs Hirst presents trophy to Mrs Natrass’ RIMSKI

The Stud Book

It was not until 196O that the new Society was ready to publish its first Stud Book, but it was the first and most comprehensive history of the Arab horse in Australia then published, with its Constitution, [short] History of the Arab Horse in Australia, illustrations of prominent stallions, List of Members, Regulations, Standard of Excellence and Reference Pedigrees. A small book, but one that took meticulous original research. We are indebted to Mrs A.D.D. Maclean and Mr W.J.B. Murphy, who together formed the editorial committee. The honour of being Number 1 in the stallion section went to DARINTH [A Kehailan Rodan] Grey, 1936 [Sire: Sirdar Dam: Judith]. Bred and owned by R. Best. The mare who carried the Number 1 was HANIYA [A Kehaileh Rodanieh] Bay, 194O [Sire: Mamaluke Dam: Esther]. Bred by C.J.McDonald. Owned by Mrs J.H. Hickson.

A supplement to Volume One was published in 1963, together with an Anglo Arabian and Partbred register. The Purebred Supplement was then included in Volume II of the Stud Book published in 1967, which also caught up some of the horses registered in other countries’ Stud Books [mostly the UK] in its valuable extended Reference Pedigrees.

With the help of Lady Anne Lytton, who visited Australia in 1952 to judge the Arabian Classes at Sydney Royal Show, the British Arab Horse Society agreed not to accept any further Australian-bred Arab horses unless they were first registered in Australia. From 197O the Arab Horse Society of Australasia achieved control of the registration of all Australian-bred Arab horses.

At first the Australasian Stud Book included New Zealand horses as well, but in 1972 the New Zealand breeders formed their own Society with the Australian counterpart’s full blessing, and with Australian Council members Leo Campbell and John Wyatt performing most of the liaison work. Our own Society then became “The Arab Horse Society of Australia”, and New Zealand-bred horses were thereafter registered in their own Stud Book.

Leo Campbell decorates Bremervale Emperor led by Peter Toft photo Pat Slater

Over a period of 44 years the Society has published 26 Stud Books for Purebred Arabian horses, and has expanded its Derivative Registries to include Partbred Arabians, Anglo Arabians, Arabian Ponies, Arabian Riding Ponies, Arabian Warmbloods, Quarabs and Arabian Stockhorses. It has registered over 5O,OOO Purebred Arabian horses, and well over 1OO,OOO horses altogether, including Derivatives. It has approximately 5OOO members Australia-wide [currently the breeders of Derivative Arabians are not compelled to be members].

All States have Affiliates or Clubs which run Shows and other events at grass-roots level. They started out as State “Divisions” of the Society in the late 196O’s and the 197O’s, but have since become more autonomous and their numbers have mushroomed around the more-populated areas of the country. Others are focused on bloodlines or performance pursuits of specialist interest.

An Electronic Stud Book was first marketed on disk some years ago, and this year [2OO4] the Stud Book will become available on the Society’s website free to all.

New Developments

During the 196O’s rapid growth in the Society membership meant that we outgrew the secretarial and registry arrangements with the RAS. The Society’s own first full-time Secretary Mr Bill Abbott, was appointed early in 197O. A Management Committee comprised firstly all Council members, with an executive to attend to day-to-day matters. Then finally, and most significantly a rental office found at 17O Burwood Road, Burwood, became the first “home” of the Arabian Horse Society. Later the Society was able to purchase a shopfront office at 1O3 Edwin Street at Croydon, which remained the centre of operations until 1988.

In late 1974 a referendum of members overwhelmingly voted in favour of incorporation, with a name change to The Arabian Horse Society of Australia Limited. This happened officially on July 1st 1975, when the Council became “the Board of Directors”. A new Constitution was set in place, along with a voting system which would see New South Wales represented by 3 Board members, Victoria and Queensland by 2 each, and Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia by 1 each. Previously 1O Councillors had been elected regardless of their home States, leaving some States unrepresented.

The Stud Book grew rapidly during the 197O’s. So too did the price of Purebred Arabian horses, and their numbers boomed. The 197O’s also saw the establishment, overseas, of the World Arabian Horse Organization which Australia joined in 1975.  John Wyatt and Jean Luckock were our first two delegates. John became long-time WAHO Treasurer. WAHO delegates then [and now] attended meetings at their own expense.

The Society’s Ofice expanded to meet new Registry demands. Mr Adam Barhagi was Secretary from 1973 to 1976, followed by Mr Tom Hall who held this position until 1982. Mr Peter McLean, who then took office as the next Secretary, managed some huge changes in Society policy, as well as the1984 World Arabian Horse Conference which was held in Sydney and show-cased Australian Arabians to the world [the 2OOO Conference was also held in Australia, this time on Queensland’s Gold Coast].

 Council Member Jean Luckock

The WAHO Conference was a great success, but it was to prove a watershed for the Society in many ways. The Society had outgrown the Office at Croydon, and Peter Mclean resigned in 1987 to be replaced by another Peter, Peter Absell, who has given loyal service to the Board and leadership in the Office to the present day [2OO4]. He has overseen even more changes, beginning with the Board’s purchase of a National Trust building in Windsor, along with the considerable renovations needed to transform it into a modern office for a staff of 1O. The Board has struggled to keep abreast of the computer technology required to service our registration and administration requirements, culminating in the need for a completely new and purpose-built system which will be finally completely in operation from mid-2OO4. Our registry business has continued to grow, with our exportations overseas finally over-taking importations FROM overseas, with the expansion of the Derivative Registries, with the need for identification and parent verification first via blood-typing and then DNA, and the constant paper warfare which has accompanied all of this. Countering this, more and more of our breeding documents can now be down-loaded from our website.

The Australian National Arabian Champiopnships
WAHO vice-president and past chairman AHSA
Peter Pond

In 1982 the Board launched a new event, a National Championship Show, which was the initiative of Director, Mr Peter Pond [NSW]. The first Championships was held in Melbourne, with Judges Holger Ismer [West Germany], Cyril Jensz [WA] and Dick Best [NSW]. The honour of being our first Australian National Champion Stallion went to Sandra Hale’s BIRUBI AURA [Ringing Gold/Arabesque Desert Jewel] from South Australia. The first Australian National Champion Mare was Marion Richmond’s imported mare 27 IBN GALAL 5 [Ibn Galal/1O Hosna] from Hungary.

Until 1997, the Show rotated between venues, mostly the three Eastern States, although one Championships each has been held in Western Australia and South Australia. Then for three years the Board held the Show in Canberra, in an attempt to centralize it as much as possible, but for the past four years the venue has been the magnificent Olympic Equestrian Venue at Horsley Park in Sydney’s west.

Each year two overseas Judges are invited to officiate, along with 3 Australian Judges.  All Purebred and Derivative Halter classes are judged by three Judges, two International and one Australian for the Purebreds, two Australian and one International for the Derivatives. Judges [individually] rank horses in the Finals from 1st to 1Oth. The Championships is a busy, four-day Show, culminating in the announcement of the National Champion Stallion, which brings the final session to an exciting climax

The Championships has taken on a life of its own, as well as absorbing some office staff and the Championships Committee members for much of the year. Although there is undoubtedly no finer venue anywhere in Australia, there is talk again of rotating the Show, to make it accessible to more Society members.

The Arabian Horse News

For almost 4O years, the Arabian Horse Society has had a splendid masthead publication, “The Arabian Horse News”, which is the envy of the other breed organizations. It began humbly in March 1967, as a publication of the New South Wales Committee of the Society, selling for the princely sum of 25 cents per issue. Printed in black and white, its first editor was Laurie Palmer, assisted by a Publicity Committee of Lorraine Quinton [the Registrar of the Society] and Peter Bell, who were joined in 1968 by Lesley Dowey. In Winter 1969 the Council [of the Society] was invited by the NSW State Division to take over the magazine. A Publishing Committee was formed comprising John and Jackie Davis, Lesley Dowey, Peter Bell and Leo Campbell.

For the next 7 years until 1975, Leo Campbell and his wife Mollie gave sterling service in the production of the magazine. Leo had by then succeeded Bill Murphy as President of the Society.

Past chairman AHSA Paul James

In March 1975 Mrs Patricia Smith was appointed as Honorary Editor and Mrs Tanya Hawley as Designer. Together they re-vamped and re-designed the magazine, and had the satisfaction of seeing it grow out to a huge 232 pages for the Stallion Issue of June 198O!

In 1984, Ms Christine Haigh of Equus Publications took over the reins as Editor, and the magazine was henceforth taken right away from the office, where it had become a huge strain, and was from then on the subject of a periodic tender. Chris Haigh changed the face of the magazine yet again, and it continued to grow in stature, although it was circulated only amongst members of the Society at this stage.

In March 1984, Horseworld Publications, at that time owned by Judy and Herman Vink, won the tender. Subsequently the magazine appeared at last on the newsstands. Photo-journalist Mrs Pat Slater became its Editor. Since then the Vink family has retained the contract to produce the “News”, nowadays as Vink Publications. The magazine is glossy and colourful, appearing four times per year.

Honorary Life Members

Since 1967 there have been 3O Honorary Life Memberships bestowed by the Society for “special services” rendered over a significant period of time to the Society. The recipients’ names are recorded on an honour board in the Society’s board room.

The Life members are as follows:

Past chairman David Nye at his stud in Tasmania
Honarary life member Jack Mathiske with his stallion MAHROUSS

Mrs A.D.D. Maclean [1967]
Mrs M.D. Hirst
Mr W.J.B. Murphy [1972]
Mrs J. Luckock
Mr G. Prince [1973]
Mr J.A. Wyatt [1976]
Mr L.A. Campbell
Mr C.C. Readhead
Mr P.S. James
Mrs C. Ros

Mr G.M. Cockburn [1979]
Mr J.H. Mathiske [1982]
Dr F.R. Staunton [1986]
Mrs L.W. Dowey [1992]
Mrs V. Males
Mr R.P. Males
Mr P.J. Pond
Mr C.H.D. Nye [1993]
Mrs E. Bligh
Mrs M. Bennett-Elliott [2OO2]

Mrs M. Sharman
Mr T. Sharman [1995]
Mrs H. Nichol
Mrs P. Slater
Mrs C. Gordon [1998]
Mr K. Snell
Mrs S.A. George [2OOO]
Mrs R.M. Sayer
Mrs C. Cornish [2OO1]

Mr T. Canacott [2OO4]
Mr P. Absell
Mrs E. Staunton
Mrs L Bailey [2005]
Mrs E. Williams
Mrs G. Lanigan
Mr R. Smith [2007]
Mrs T. Hawley
Mrs W. Cairns [2008]

Life Members Ron and Val Males
Past Chairmen of Society (195O - 2O10)

195O – Mr R.B. Campbell
1956 – 1971 Mr W.J.B. Murphy
1972 – 1974 Mr L.A. Campbell
1975 – 1977 Mr P.S. James
1978 – 1979 Mr J.A. Wyatt
198O – Mr L.A. Campbell
1981 – 1983 Mr B.G. Nichol
1984 – 1986 Mr P.J. Pond
1987 – 1989 Mr C.H.D. Nye

199O – 1992 Mr P.J. Pond
1993 – Mrs H. L. Nichol
1994 – 1996 Mr P.J. Pond
1997 – 1999 Mrs S.A. George
2OOO – 2OO2 Mr. T.G. Canacott
2OO3 – 2005 Mr G.D. Farrell
2006 – 2008 Mrs C Gordon
2009 to present Miss K Luckock

John Wyatt – WAHO treasurer
and past chairman AHSA

The Patron of the Society
Mrs Cecily Cornish

Mr W.J.B.[“Bill”] Murphy held the Office of Chairman for a record 15 years during the Society’s most formative years. In more recent times Mr Peter Pond was Chairman in three terms of three years each [he is now the Secretary of the World Arabian Horse Organization.] According to the Articles of Association, “neither the office of Chairman nor the office of Treasurer shall be occupied by the same person for more than three consecutive years” [Article 68, p2O].

Mr Paul James and Mr Leo Campbell each gave sterling service to the Council/Board over periods of 19 and 18 years respectively, both holding the office of Chairman, and that of Treasurer on more than one occasion. Mr David Nye and Mr Peter Pond each gave 2O years of service to the Board, also holding both Offices during their incumbencies.

The current Patron of the Society is Mrs Cecily Cornish of Casterton, Victoria, a long-time breeder, judge, and Director of the Society. Previous Patrons have included Mrs A.D.D. Maclean, Mrs E.E. Hirst, and Colonel Sir Henry Abel-Smith?

Volumes I and II of “The Australasian Arab Horse Stud Book” [196O and 1967]
“The Arabian Horse in Australia” Volume II
[A Brief History of the Arabian Horse Society of Australia, Ltd by Mrs Jean Luckock]
Records and Honour Boards of The Arabian Horse Society.