The Waler has an interesting heritage of a wide variety of horses ranging from the Arabian to the Thoroughbred crossed with many of the Cape type horses brought from South Africa. In addition the Waler has a strong influence from the Timor Pony, which was renown for its stamina, endurance and ability to survive on almost nothing. There were also other breeds involved in the development of the Waler or New South Wales Horse and they included the Percheron, Clydesdale, Norfolk Roaster, Hackney, Cleveland Bay and the Yorkshire Coacher. Other trotters and even heavy horses were also used in the initial breeding programs that were designed to produce military remounts and all round horses for farming and settling of the wild and unexplored areas of Australia.
The modern Waler is really a unique breed, seeming to have inherited the best of traits from its ancestors plus the skills needed to live largely without human support or care. This has hardened the Waler's hooves and strengthened their legs, allowing them to be able to travel great distances in a day without any problems with lameness or soundness problems. In addition these horses really survived by only the most athletic and hardy living to reproduce, resulting in an extremely sound genetic base.
Jumping and eventing is popular in Australia and New Zealand just as it is in the United Kingdom. Even the Pony Club for children has most of its shows and events featuring both jumping and eventing. Jumping, or show jumping as it is known in the United States tests the Waler's ability to cover a set course, usually in an arena or open area, by completing jumps of various levels and sizes within a specific time. Points are detracted from the total score if jumps are knocked down or if the horse refuses a jump or completes the course outside or the required time frame. Horses are not judged on conformation or appearance, but rather on athletic ability. The Waler excels at these types of events and is highly competitive even against the warmbloods and sports horses imported and bred in Australia.
Eventing includes horses competing in three different disciplines that include dressage, hunter events and show jumping. Each horse must complete the various patterns at the dressage level, then compete in a show jumping competition as well as a hunter event or cross-country competition. Cross country sections include the horse having to both maneuver through different types of jumps including water jumps, jumps on turns and jumps over water and other natural and man-made obstacles. Cross-country is ideal for the stamina and physical ability of the Waler and they really excel at this phase of the eventing competition. The Waler also is ideal for dressage where their willing disposition and natural abilities make them a very balanced performance horse, ideal for the discipline. Overall in Australian competitions the Waler horse typically ranks just as high as any other warmblood and is considered to be a premier sports and competitive breed.