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Kaimanawa ~ Horses of New Zealand

Kaimanawa horses

In my Throwback Thursday post earlier this week I introduced you to Fern, a Kaimanawa horse. Now this breed of horse is fairly unknown in the world as a whole, I only really know about it from my Nana sending me information about them over the years. So I thought I would share a bit more about them with you today.

riding in new zealand, kaimanawa(Me & Fern Right)

Think Mustang

The Kaimanawa is the wild (or perhaps feral would be a better word) horse of New Zealand. These horses are not native to New Zealand and were shipped over in the early 1800’s. However, horses were not seen in the wild until 1876, when horses were spotted on the Kaimanawa ranges.

British Native Ponies

The original Kaimanawa native horses originated from Exmoor and Welsh ponies which had been shipped over in the 1800’s. Originally these ponies formed the Carlyon pony and Comet pony breeds, which were known for being sure footed and robust.

However, as the years past, other breed types added to the population after escaping or being set free. In 1941 many of the cavalry horses were set free following a strangles epidemic and in the 1960’s an Arab stallion was apparently set free to join the population of wild horses.

Modern Day Kaimanawa

These days the population of Kaimanawa horses displays characteristics of Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Arabian and Clydesdale alongside the original pony traits. While the majority of horses have kept the sturdy pony structure, they range in height from 12.2h to 15h. They also come in a range of different coat colours.

The breed as a whole is known for their calmness, intelligence and inquisitiveness, making them good riding horses. Their hardiness makes them good doers and easy to keep too.

The Muster

In 1992 it was found that the wild horse population put 31 different types of unique plant were at risk of extinction. Measures were then put in place to help control the wild horse population, preventing the risk to the unique New Zealand wildlife.

In 1993, the first muster took place where 330 horses were culled from the 2000 population. So far roughly 2000 horses have been removed from the wild population with over half of these horses being euthanized.

However, the muster process has since changed and become more regulated. Not only does the muster now happen bi-annually, but the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses (KHH) works to ensure that as many horses as possible go on to suitable homes.

The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group (KWHAG) is currently researching a new method of immunocontraception management. If this works and is introduced to the wild horse population then less horses will need to be removed from the ranges which would also help reduce the number of horses euthanized.

Last Updated on 22/12/2021

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