History of the Muster

The landscape and habitats in the Kaimanawa Ranges are both ancient and unique. Because of this, the management plan for the horses requires they be kept out of especially fragile areas. Elsewhere, the herd is kept to around 300, so that there is some balance between the horses and the environment they live in.

Each year, around April, a herd count is undertaken by the Department of Conservation (DoC) using helicopters with a GPS (Global Positioning System). The number of surplus horses are identified and mustered around the middle of June.

Christine Cornege/ Waikato Times

The horses are mustered by helicopters to a set of yards where the drafting team takes over. They run a very tight and smooth operation where the horses are sorted with the utmost care and the minimum amount of fuss. The resident veterinarian, keeps a very close eye on all phases of the muster.

The horses are relatively strung out as they mainly trot down to the yards, where they are sorted by age and sex. The weanlings and yearlings are sent out to new homes as soon as possible (within 24 hours, they are often at their new home). The older horses are kept overnight to allow time to settle down and become aware of the concept of a fence. They are fed hay and water while in the yards. The yards are 1.8m high and the drafting and loading race is lined with rubber matting halfway up the sides.

If you are interested in obtaining a Kaimanawa horse, please complete an application form. After the due process has been successfully completed, a horse is selected for you at the next muster, if one is available. It is not possible to view these horses at the Waiouru yards before delivery because of safety considerations (for people and horses).

The selected horses are then sent to central yards where they can be picked up by their new owners. The transport costs from Waiouru to these central yards is free, but all costs of transport from drop-off yards to the purchaser’s property will be their own responsibility. We do this to reduce the overall stress of transportation and handling for the horses.

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