Best Kaimanawa horse muster yet, says DOC

Best Kaimanawa horse muster yet, says DOC

Despite being brought forward, or possibly because of it, Wednesday’s muster of Kaimanawa horses looks to be the most successful yet with all but one of the 104 expected to rehomed.

The horses were mustered by three helicopters last week at the back of the Waiouru Military Training Grounds.

Earlier this year, the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society had expressed concern that they would not have time to find homes for the horses after the Department of Conservation decided to carry out the muster about a month earlier than they expected.

But the extra publicity caused by the shorter notice seems to have helped the cause, with around 160 people registering for horses. Around 120 properties were inspected to qualify to take horses.

Society chairman Elder Jenks said the horses had “all come in in really good condition”.

The muster is now held every two years to keep the overall herd size down to around 300. Their range is surveyed earlier in the year to ascertain how many horses need to be taken.

Mr Jenks said the society has around 20 horses in its care at any one time and monitors the wellbeing of the horses once they are rehomed.

"If they get into trouble, or if the owners die or can't care for them anymore we will step in and that is where the majority of our funds go," he said.

The muster was witnessed by a number of groups including local iwi Ngati Rangi, Forest and Bird, SPCA, the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society, NZ Army, DOC and two members of Australian wild horse preservation groups.

The Australian observers said they were interested to see the methods used in the muster, to see if they could be used in their areas, the Snowy Mountains and Kosciuszko National Park, rather than the cull that is planned to reduce the population there by 90%.