Midnight the Warhorse: Part 7 - Desert Olympics

by Peter Haydon

During this period, intense rivalry occurred between the Australian and British Calvary about who had the best horses. To settle the score a competition day was arranged between the two armies.

With Guy and Midnight being the 12th’s standout combination, they were chosen to represent Australia against the best of the British. Three events were to be contested which was dubbed the “Desert Olympics”. The events were to the test horses’ ability, the rider’s ability and their combined ability.

Light Horse on Parade taken by Zola Cair

Light Horse on Parade taken by Zola, Cairo

The first event was a short distance sprint race over a quarter of a mile. Little did the British know that Midnight was by the champion sire Tester whose stock were rarely beaten in the short distance Bridle Spurts back in Australia. Guy and Midnight won the event at a canter, easing down at the finish after establishing a commanding lead. Australia 1 England 0.

The second contest was a utility Flags event involving obstacles and using their swords completing tasks against the clock. Again, Guy and Midnight prevailed winning the event with a clear round in the quickest time. Australia 2 England 0.

The third event was an equitation test involving the dressage movements which the British thought they had cornered, as at home they did a lot of this type of riding school training. They thought the Australians with their laid-back approach would be easily beaten in these more formal equine movements. Again, they underestimated Guy and Midnight. Guy being a fine all-round horsemen had trained Midnight in her early education while riding her back on the farm. She would move off his legs while performing the bush tasks such as opening gates, to stop, back, extend and to do flying changes. To the astonishment of the British he won the point score event but only by a narrow margin. Australia 3 England 0.

The Australians were jubilant to win all three events and to be the clear winners of the Calvary Desert Olympics. Guy and Midnight were the heroes of the Australian Light Horse. It created a cultural shift in the respect the British Calvary had for the Australian’s and as the desert campaigns evolved they acknowledged the tougher bush reared Australian horses had come into their own. In fact, they rated the Walers to be some of the finest cavalry horses ever seen.

Guy Haydon photo Cairo 1916.jpg