170 Kaimanawa horses face the slaughter house
More than 170 Kaimanawa horses face the slaughter house if homes cannot be found for them in the next month.
The slaughter is part of the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) bi-annual culling of the breed, aimed at keeping the population below 300 to protect the fragile environment they inhabit.
Kaimanawa Heritage Horses spokesman Elder Jenks says put in good homes, many of the horses flourish.
“Once handled, Kaimanawa wild horses have exceptionally temperaments and are delightful ponies to interact with,” he says. “They’re flourishing in pony clubs around New Zealand as great all-rounders and are highly sought after as jumpers, eventers and games ponies.”
Mr Jenks says Kaimanawa horses were once seen as feral but the reputation of the breed is quickly improving.
“The horses are won by TLC, not by force,” he says.
“They are like a Labrador dog; give them a little love and they give you 10 times back.”
Mr Jenks owns nine Kaimanawa horses and is urging people to take on horses before the cull.
The breed was first reported in the central North Island’s Kaimanawa Ranges more than 130 years ago.
They gained protection by the Government in 1981 after their numbers shrunk to 174, but by 1997 the population had ballooned to 1700.
DOC now aims at maintaining a steady number of around 300 horses.
This year 479 horses have been counted in the area, meaning 179 need to be culled.
The excess horses have until the end of May to find a home.