Since my journey with wild horses began nine years ago, I have competed and placed in wild horse competitions on three continents (including 6th overall in the 2015 Mustang Makeover, 5th overall in the 2016 Brumby Challenge, and winning the 2020 Freedom to Friendship Freestyle).
In total, I have tamed over 50 Kaimanawas, Mustangs and Brumbies for both myself and students at my Wild Kaimanawa Workshops.
Although I have show jumped to Grand Prix level and competed with success across the disciplines, it is my work with wild horses that has shaped me into the horsewomen I am today; not only giving me valuable insight into equine body language and enhancing my horsemanship, but also giving me a love of liberty and bridleless riding (which is something that carries through to my team of performance horses). While the horses I tame have become some of my greatest teachers, so much of what I have learnt comes from my observations photographing them in the wild.
From 2018 to 2021 I spent six months living out with wild herds in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand studying herd dynamics for my book Wild Horses of the World. My families work with wild horses featured in many of my books (with 15 now published in total), as well as the TV show Keeping Up With The Kaimanawas, and two documentaries.
I first saw Drifter in the wild in early 2020, as part of my Wild Horses of the World tour. He was photographed with his band from a very great distance, which included a satellite stallion named Long Shot (who is also here in our yards), and they had one mare and her foal in their band. They were then photographed in the wild several months later, and given their names, by the New Zealand Defence Force, with an additional two satellite stallions shadowing them, and all six were still together almost a year on when they were mustered.
Wind Drift has been aged at about 10-years, and is proving to be very challenging. He’s not only from Zone 20, where the horses are less habituated to people, but has a very strong flight instinct and is quick to snort and spin away. Although very overwhelmed by everything, he tried 110% in all situations and is actually my more advanced stallion. He eats from my hand, has been out in a paddock for weeks, reaches out to bump my hand, does hindquarter yields, follows me in figure-8 patterns at liberty, and has had first touches on the head.
Conquistador was well known to the army, as a prominent band stallion in Upper 14; their first photos of him were documented in 2018, and in 2020 I also saw him in the wild on two different occasions. Both times he had a huge presence about him. As one of the biggest stallions to be mustered this year, he is a sight to behold and has the arrogance and mana of a stallion that has spent his life wild, fighting to both win mares and protect them.
Unfortunately, his first few weeks were marred by lameness, and being sore made him quite surly.