Kelly Wilson & atahu
Kelly Wilson is back with us again this year for another chance at the Freedom to Friendship titles with her stallion Atahu.
This stallion has always had a thing for Kelly and as luck would have it there are a number of photos of them both showing just how often and how close they have come together out in the ranges.
Although Atahu is only a young stallion, his quiet yet curious nature has always shone through in our visits to home valley. He is reaching his training milestones in record time and seems to be embracing the journey of human friendship.
Being Kelly’s only stallion entered this year and having a stallion that’s found her a few times in his life, they will be a partnership to watch develop over the coming months.
Kelly is also conducting her Wild Kaimanawa Workshops again this year as well as supporting two trainers in the Stallion Challenge competition.
Highlights from 2021 Stallion Challenge
Kelly Wilson – Wind Drift & Conquistador
Since Kelly’s journey with wild horses began nine years ago, she has 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). She has now tamed over 50 Kaimanawas, Mustangs and Brumbies for both herself and students on her Wild Kaimanawa Workshops.
Although she has show jumped to pony Grand Prix level and competed with success across the disciplines, it is her work with wild horses that have shaped Kelly into the horsewoman she is today; not only giving her valuable insight into equine body language and enhancing her horsemanship but also giving her a love of liberty and bridleless riding (which is something that carries through to my team of performance horses).
While the horse’s Kelly tames have become some of her greatest teachers, so much of what she has learnt comes from her observations photographing them in the wild. From 2018 to 2021 she spent six months living out with wild herds in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand studying herd dynamics for her bestselling book Wild Horses of the World.
Kelly’s families work with wild horses features 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.
Once again, during the upcoming Kaimanawa Horse Muster, Kelly will be offering students the opportunity to tame a wild horse alongside her as part of her hugely successful Wild Kaimanawa Workshops, which have seen 29 Kaimanawas smoothly transition to domestication alongside first-time trainers. For more information about applying email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.