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COVID Forces Second Biggest Muster In 20 Years

A total number of 206 Kaimanawa wild horses need to be removed from the Kaimanawa Ranges in the Central North Island following completion of the DOC annual aerial survey.

With the cancellation of the 2020 muster due to COVID restrictions, the Kaimanawa wild herd has increased in size well beyond the level recommended by the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group (KWHAG). With target removal numbers now confirmed, the welfare groups who manage rehoming efforts, Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society (KHH) and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society (KWHPS), are now urging people who are interested in taking a horse or horses from the muster, to get in touch now.

Maintaining a total number of 300 allows for the horses in the herd to maintain best condition and also protects the fragile ecosystems, unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone.

According to KHH Welfare Officer Michele Haultain, the Kaimanawas coming out of the muster are true wild horses which have never been in contact with humans. “In time they will do anything their owners ask of them, but in the early days they need sympathetic handling to ensure they make a successful transition to domestic life. Kaimanawas have an X-Factor; their senses are acute, and they have proven to be very trainable,” she said.

Given the right environment they are very curious, honest and friendly, are suitable for a variety of equine disciplines. and are now being seen in the upper levels of equine competitions more often. Kaimanawa horses are gaining favour among the equestrian community as highly competitive sport horses, pony club mounts and good all rounders. Since numbers were reduced to 300 individuals in the wild herd, the condition of the horses and their final mature height, has improved immeasurably. As a result, they are more suited to a wider variety of riders.

2018 was the biggest muster since 1997 with 299 horses successfully rehomed. KHH Chairperson, Sue Rivers, stated that “even though COVID restrictions have put us in a similar position to 2018, we are hopeful the public will step up to ensure as many of the horses targeted for removal will find a suitable home”.
“With the continued development of training incentives, the stallion challenge competition which includes a mentorship program this year, sponsorship opportunities, together with a growing number of workshops being offered to the public by approved trainers, the opportunities are increasing for people to share the incredible experience of taming a wild horse.” she said.

Currently only 34 applications for horses have been received between both rehoming groups. With less than four weeks until applications close on 1 April, time is fast running out for interested parties to apply. Both rehoming groups are more than happy to offer prospective new owners support and advice.

The muster is scheduled to take place late April as soon as weather conditions are favourable.

Information and applications on rehoming a Kaimanawa wild horse can be found at:

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society

Website: www.kaimanawaheritagehorses.org
Email: muster@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org

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