From a young age, I have been very active in a variety of sports. In between trainings, I managed to fit in my love of horses and from that, a hobby turned into a passion. I used to spend most days after school riding my own pony and on the weekends I’d love watching my neighbour ride or would help with the green broke ponies down the road. I soon started working with the more difficult ponies which I absolutely loved and eventually started schooling and selling on behalf.
In 2021 I joined Kelly Wilson’s wild Kaimanawa workshop; as one of Kelly’s stallion interns and tamed my first wild Stallion (Gunna) who I competed within the Freedom to friendship challenge. Gunna taught me so much, from the taming process to teaching him how to lead and cross obstacles, then once home breaking him in then schooling him.
I absolutely loved the whole experience, even all the difficult moments, and decided to take on my second stallion this year to improve the skills and techniques I learnt last year, as well as increase my knowledge while around the newly mustered horses.
Whitu is a 5-year-old band stallion who was mustered in from zone 15, Home Valley. Whitu was originally named ‘Seven’ by the military as his face making looked like a 7 when he was a foal, (however, looks more like a question mark now); his band was traditionally named in Maori terms so he was renamed ‘Whitu’ which simply means seven in Maori.
In the wild Whitu was known to be fierce and powerful. He provided the most epic battle between two band stallions to be captured on camera in the Kaimanawa Ranges, where flesh was caught flying through the air in photographs. The battle lasted for hours and Whitu left with the win.
In the first few sessions with Whitu I saw how brave this young stallion is. He would walk straight up to me with confidence and in our first session together he finished by eating out of my hand. He proved to be a little character and did not want to give up his alpha-male status so showed a fight instinct more than flight or freeze which meant that I had to work quietly and carefully while I was gaining his trust.
In the second week of working with Whitu he was quiet enough to be haltered and showed just how smart he was in his first leading session by walking in both directions around the yard and crossing obstacles all within 15 minutes. Since then he has been groomed, learnt how to cross/navigate more difficult obstacles, been on multiple adventures around the farm, lunge in both directions, learnt how to load onto a truck and has had his first adventures off property which he enjoyed.
Highlights from 2021 stallion challenge
Rebekah Edhouse & Gunna
2021 Ultramox Freedom to Friendship Stallion Challenge – Mentor Student Trainer
Trainer: Kelly Wilson
My name is Rebekah and I’m 18 years old. I live in Rotorua and have grown up with and around horses my whole life, and still currently own my childhood pony.
From a young age, I have been very active in a variety of sports. In between training, I managed to fit in my love of horses and from that, a hobby turned into a passion. I would often hang out at my neighbour’s when she rode, watching and learning from her. She began teaching me natural horsemanship and everything she taught me, I’d go back across the fence and teach my pony.
When I was 14 I started volunteering at a local horse ranch down the road, helping at horse camps, trekking and starting young horses. From this experience, my knowledge about horses grew and I was soon schooling and selling on behalf, as well as working with their more difficult ponies which I absolutely loved.
Throughout my journey with horses, I have always been fascinated by the wild horses and dreamed of one day having enough skills to be able to tame my own.
Gunna was mustered in from zone 20, and at this stage, it was unknown if he was named in the database. He was mustered in with his small band of two mares, sorted then loaded onto a truck to be transported to the Wilson Sisters property where his training would begin.
When I first met Gunna it was flight at first sight. He would react at the littlest movement of my body and would fly across the yard during our first two sessions. With Kelly’s guidance and support, he quickly adapted to his training and over 3 weeks learnt not only how to find relaxation with my presence, but also how to draw in, how to acknowledge the whip, perform hindquarter yields at liberty, would follow me through yards, eat grass out of my hand and have our first touches as well.
About 3 weeks into his training we found out Gunna was in the database as ‘Catch 22’. This name will be his registered name as I think it’s a unique name for this little stallion.
The past few weeks Gunna has been haltered and is learning how to lead. He has also been learning how to navigate obstacles and handle working in a busy environment.