2012 Kaimanawa Muster Report

On Thursday 24th May, the yards were set up and a meeting for all concerned with this year’s muster was held at Waiouru. Department of Conservation staff, musterers, KWHPS and KHH representatives, observers, army personnel, vets and the helicopter pilots attended the briefing. The spokesperson for the army pointed out the dangers of un-exploded ammunition and ordinances in the Ranges. Tim Gilberston, from DoC, ran through the department’s plan for the muster.

The next day everyone assembled and entered the Ranges at 8am, meeting at the yards. Two helicopters (an R22 and a Hughes 269) were used and these flew directly to the first horses to be mustered. Over the morning several groups of horses were brought in. Due to wind there was a brief break over lunch. Once the wind had settled, more horses were brought in. At the end of the first day approximately 120 horses had been mustered into the yards. They had been sorted into separate groups of foals, yearlings, stallions and mares (plus nine mare/foal combinations). These horses spent the night in the yards.

On Saturday the same procedure was followed. Due to frost and low cloud the helicopters could only bring horses some of the way into the yards. Worried about losing them in the fog, the pilots left them nearby and waited for conditions to clear. Once the cloud had lifted the helicopters went back and herded the horses in. Over the day they brought the balance of the horses into the yards, a total of 191.

This year the count, held in April, had the clearest conditions yet so is probably the most accurate to date. The count had totalled 479 wild horses; meaning 179 horses were to be mustered. DoC also brought in eleven horses from the No Go Zone, which were not included in the original count. As complete bands of horses are mustered, numbers were one over the original estimate, including the extra eleven horses. DoC, in conjunction with the Kaimanawa Working Plan, are able to shoot horses in the No Go Zone so these horses were lucky as KHH was able to place the younger ones, thus saving more lives.

Of the 191 horses mustered, the Veterinary Association representatives deemed 112 as being suitable to be homed. They considered this year’s horses to be in the best condition to ever come out in a muster, due to smaller numbers and better grazing in the wild. The 112 horses have all been homed plus an extra seven, saved at the last minute. One of the documentary crews filming the muster had prior approval for three horses, plus an extra to be handled by them, all four horses chosen for them by the vets. After seeing the quality of those destined for slaughter they decided to home another seven horses.

Horses were sent to yards at Pahiatua (34 horses), Taranaki (10), Cambridge (11) and Huntly (64). These horses were then re-sorted and over the next three days sent out to homes from Levin, to Kerikeri, to Hawkes Bay.

As always, transport has been a logistical nightmare as most trucks suitable for this work are busy at this time of the year, totally committed with shifting dairy herds. We hope you have received your horses free of injuries, as unfortunately a few, being wild horses, will get the odd injury during transport. If you have an injury problem please contact Marilyn Jenks, welfare officer – marilyn@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org

KHH would like to thank paid up members and all those who have made donations as this money is being put to great use saving lives. There will be many large accounts for transport and any vet bills from deliveries will also have to be met. A special thankyou goes to all the KHH committee and members, without whom it would not have been possible to save this many horses. We would like to give thanks to DoC, the Army, musterers, helicopter crews and transport operators for making the muster run smoothly. Also, we give a big thankyou to our Area Reps, those on our Welfare Committee and those who looked after the yards and the redistribution of the horses.

To those of you who have received horses, we hope you get as much pleasure from them as we do from ours. We look forward to receiving stories about, and photos of, your new horses so please feel free to send us any updates. The muster will feature heavily in our next magazine so please send stories and photos to Beth Judson (KHH Magazine sub-editor) –beth@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org

For those who missed out on a horse this year, we would love to work with you in preparation for the next muster. At this stage this is planned for 2014. If you are considering getting a horse from the next muster please get in touch.


  • 191 horses mustered in total.
  • Foals:  46 (26 colts and 20 fillies)
  • Yearlings/two year olds:  39 (14 colts and 25 fillies)
  • Older stallions:  37
  • Older mares:  69

Of these:  all foals, all young colts and fillies (including mare and foal combos), 13 older stallions and 21 mares were saved

72 horses were sent to slaughter: 24 stallions, 48 mares (all older horses)

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