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Kaimanawa wild horses are once again available to the public with the Department of Conservation’s annual muster scheduled for later this month.
Applications are currently being sought by two wild horse preservation groups from people keen to give homes to some of the horses.
“Adopting a Kaimanawa Horse is not complicated,” says Department of Conservation (DOC) Palmerston North Area Manager Jason Roxburgh “Applications are made to one of the two wild horse preservation groups who then check that prospective owners have a suitable environment for the animals. A small fee is charged to cover administration costs.”
Sharyn Boness of Pahiatua is the central North Island area representative for one re-homing group, the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust (KWHWT). She speaks from her own experience of re-homing four horses direct from the last two musters. “The horses make excellent pets and work animals. They are very good for any discipline – pony clubs, horse trekking, A&P shows, as farm horses or riding for the disabled – they are really proving themselves” Within a week of getting the horses her 12 year old daughter Ashleigh was handling by herself. “While not everyone may be as confident as Ashleigh,” says Sharyn “there is an option, for a small additional fee, to adopt horses that have already been handled for a few weeks”.
Kaimanawa horse owners have been at shows throughout the North Island to promote the horses and bring greater public awareness to the breed. There has been overwhelming positive public response, as the ponies are getting more exposure.
A recent count of the Kaimanawa wild horses has shown them to be holding their own with a herd size of around 592 in the herd management area. The management plan for the horses aims to keep the number in this area to about 500, to ensure the healthy condition of both the habitat and the horses.
Overseeing the operation for the Department of Conservation this year is Bill Fleury from the Wanganui Conservancy. He said that there are additional horses in areas beyond the scope of the normal muster for which options are being considered. “Many these horses are thought to have roamed from adjacent private land and may well have returned to those properties by the time of the muster. We will be discussing plans for these horses with the landowners and will choose the most humane option to remove them”.
Current plans are to remove around 90 horses later this month as part of the normal routine muster. Supporting these plans are the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group whose membership represents the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society, RNZSPCA, Forest and Bird, NZ Veterinary Association, NZ Defence Force, Taranaki / Whanganui Conservation Board, neighbouring landowners and DOC.
Applications for a Kaimanawa horse need to be submitted now to allow for processing and can be made through the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society (KWHPS) - www.nzwildhorses.com Shirley 07 8243831 or the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust Inc.- www.kaimanawa.homestead.com Elder (09) 236 4115
Both groups have a similar process to approve owners, and offer follow up and support to people who to adopt horses. Properties will need to be inspected prior to acceptance of an application which needs to be in as soon as possible if you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.
Contact details for the groups are also available on the DOC website www.doc.govt.nz