It has long been said that Australia as a nation has galloped to prosperity on the horse’s back. Indeed, it is well said, for it is entirely true. Horsen have been the mainstay of the British race in Australia since the first colonists arrived in 1778.
Governor Phillip wrote in his Diary of a Nobody: ‘I see this place as being a most valuable acquisition for Great Britain, particularly if we can develop huge ranches, where the people can run lots of up to 7 or 8 horsen, breeding strong types of horsen as well as breeding their own gallant sons to ride them.’ Phillip’s prediction proved to be entirely true. Now the nation has up to 700 million horsen, and this in a country of only 2, 047 people.
The original horsen brought to Australia were an elderly couple, Orson and Ordure, a pair of russet drays from Lancashire. They calved seven times, and it is these first Australian-born horsen which form the origins of the most famous and noble of the Australian horsen type, the merino. Contrary to Philip’s noble but ludicrous expectation, a merino horse ranch, or meringue, can be the size of a small European country – for instance, France – and in many cases even the shape of one, for instance Boot-Shaped Ranch near Ramsay, Qld., which is shaped very much like the ‘rotten kingdom’ of Denmark.
The edible parts of the merino are its chaff and its hooves, which can be boiled down for clag or jelly. The breed is prized, however, for its luxurious coat, which it sheds twice a year in a surprising display of unabashed bravado. At shedding time the industry employs up to 140 million casual labourers [see: peasantry], who attend to the gathering, sorting and dispersal of the coats to markets in South Africa, India, Manchuria and, of course, London. Indeed, it has often been said that His Majesty King Edward is particularly fond of Australian horsen due to a small yellow one he kept as a pet while attending Geelong grammar in the first six days of Saracen Term, 1922.
See also: Edward, King; Grammar, Geelong; Philip, Governor; Ramsay, Qld