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Hoofprints in the Hills

"A dog may be man's best friend . . . but the horse wrote history." (Author unknown). Since 1830, when British exploration parties using pack-horses first ventured into Western Australia's Darling Range in search of greener pastures, horses' hoof prints have made a mark on the Hills' landscape.

Whether used for ploughing, warfare, transportation, entertainment, or therapy, horses have been integral in shaping and enriching our past and present. This exhibition uses images, objects, and oral histories to track the many ways horses and humans have interacted in this landscape since 1830.


Local stories are also told of particular horses, their owners, and the organisations they have benefited. The relationship between Les Bending and Lord Beggar, Ray Williams and Bodeguero, Willie Warnock and Herbie, are testimony to the wide-ranging and on-going effects the horse has had on human society.


Horse Tales

from the Shire

Saddles, helmets, jodhpurs, 10th Light Horse uniforms, blacksmiths' bellows. . . all tell a tale of the role of horses in the Shire of Mundaring.


10th Light Horse Equipment

On loan from the Army Museum of WA

Horse girth, tethering rope, and rifle bucket, all these items were used by the 10th Light Horse during WW2.  The rifle bucket from 1941, attached to the 1912 Universal Pattern Saddle, was also on display.


A Spanish Saddle in WA                                                                   

Part of Lew Whiteman's bequest now in Revolutions Transport Museum

This heavily embossed saddle was bought by Lew Whiteman in the 1980s.  Did it come from El Caballo Blanco in Wooroloo where the Andalusian horses once performed? We're not sure. What we do know is that Lew Whiteman donated this saddle, as well as a number of transport-related items, to the State Government in the 1990s. This collection is now part of Revolutions Transport Museum. 


A Spanish Saddle in WA

Part of Lew Whiteman's bequest now in Revolutions Transport Museum

This Spanish Saddle, judged to have been made between 1960 and 1970, has some features of 15th- century European saddles that are now rare. This includes a decorative tail piece, a silver clasp on the front that meant the reins could be tied off when not in use, and an embossed leather 'saddle blanket' under the saddle. What cannot be seen in this photo are the pyramid-shaped stirrups made of solid timber that weighed 3kg each!


Horse Tack

Do you know your bits & bridles?

This quiz tested visitors' knowledge of the many tack items needed when you ride, or own a horse. Can you spot a stirrup, bit, and halter?


Saddling Up

Saddles from around the world

From the Spanish-style saddle on the right, to the side saddle on the far left, saddles have been developed for different purposes. The small saddle in the middle is a 1912 Universal Pattern Saddle. This was used by the British and Australian mounted artillery and transport units from 1912 until 1941. Its main feature was the jointing of its steel arches which allowed the saddle to fit automatically to the back of horses of all sizes. This was especially important during World War 1, when saddles needed to be quickly fitted to a range of horses and riders. For easy repair, this saddle was also designed to have interchangeable parts.


Saddling Up

Lady Mitchell's Side Saddle

This side-saddle was owned by Lady Mitchell (1864-1949), wife of Sir James Mitchell, Premier of Western Australia. The saddle is estimated to date from 1890. It has a Y-shaped balance strap and a handkerchief pocket on the right or 'off' side.

Side-saddles were first introduced into England in the fourteenth century, and allowed women to ride a horse independently for the first time.

It was not until the early 20th century that it became socially acceptable for women to ride astride a horse. This became the preferred method of riding, leaving the side-saddle to fall out of fashion.


El Caballo Blanco

Wooroloo's Dancing Horses

These riding clothes remind us of the Spanish origins of the Andalusian horses that performed at El Caballo Blanco.


Past Exhibitions

Click on exhibition image for more information

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