Opps i put this post up last night, and its a good lesson in why you shouldnt be writing things late at night without proof reading! i made a mistake. it is the New Zealand Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare trust Inc (http://wildhorses.org.nz/) not the preservation society like i said in the first paragraph, that put out the magazine with my article. Sorry about that. its is also the welfare trust that i adopted my two wonderful wildhorses through. They are a great group of people, and have been very helpful and supportive in all my dealings with them. I know they really care about and look out for all the horses that place in adoption, and are a great group of hard working people.I have never had anything to do with the preservation society. My mistake, was just a bit of a typo! But please let me know if i ever do anything like that again. i love getting any feedback!
So a few weeks ago, i got asked to write an article about my wild horses, for The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust (not the preservation society as i had written before) They publish a quarterly newsletter/magazine, so i was asked to write something up for the December edition. Secretly i was absolutely thrilled to be asked, as it means i must be doing something right, Anyway i just got my magazine in th post last week, and was very excited to open it and read my first ever published article, plus all the other great stories about other peoples experiences with their own wild horses. Some awsome stories about how much people truly love theses horses and what they will do to save them.For those of you who don't get the newsletter (you should) i thought id put a copy of my article up, you can tell me what you think. published article is as follows in blue.....
As I sit here writing this, I realize it has been just over six months to the day since my Kaimanawas arrived. Time seems to have flown by, but looking back I realize that there has been a huge change, both mentally, and physically for the horses, a great learning curve of experiences, for both myself and them... It's been a fast few months, but a long and incredible journey. It would be hard to sum up all the highs and lows, the milestones and achievements. It is also hard to describe to people just how awesome these horses are. For me, it's been a truly fantastic experience to be able to work with horses that are just that. Horses. Not interfered with by people, with no human taught behaviors, or experiences good or bad. Training and working with them for me is like giving an artist a huge blank canvas rather than something that's been already painted on. There have been a few key moments that exemplify these wonderful creatures and how far they have come.
On the 7th of June at around 11am two bedraggled, hairy and tired looking horses, stepped down the ramp of a cattle truck and into my stock yards. A tiny looking clothes rack, bay colt, and a bigger and pregnant, solid, grey mare. They wandered around the small pen, slightly wide eyed but calm. No tearing around, snorting, or panicking. No drama. They were soon tucked in and eating hay. They had the appearance of small, but tough and calm, lost orphans. As soon as I had a halter on them, and they could respond to pressure on the lead rope, that was it, they were caught and followed me to their new homes. Up the driveway, past the neighbors peacocks, pack of dogs, and through a creek. On the two separate trips they both just followed me. The mare, eating at every opportunity, along the way. The colt, sticking with me like a lost lamb. So, within a few days, they were both in new homes again. The colt, Matai, was in with my geldings, stabled at night and in the paddock during the day. The mare, Fern, being pregnant , got her own paddock. The thing that struck me, as soon as I laid eyes on them, was their calm sensibility, and easy to train intelligence. This attitude has shone through and never changed in the six months I've had them.
In training, I have noticed, although they are both calm, stoic, little horses they have very different personalities. The colt sensitive and timid, but quite extroverted and reacts quickly to learning new things. From the get go, he was happy interacting with people, even if a little nervous to start with, always trying to please. The mare was super introverted. She was never naughty, but for months gave the bare minimum response, staying in her own little shell. Never wanting to interact, but more, tolerating people around her. She would be very un-reactive, it was hard to get any response from her, but she would think things through and once she learned a new lesson, never had to be reminded. I feel she has travelled the furthest on her journey into domestication. Now being the most affectionate horse on the property, that calls out to you every time, loves people, and can be handled by anyone. She has had trips to town in the trailer. She had an unfortunate fence incident where she slipped going down a hill, falling into a fence. She lay totally still, while we climbed all over her to free her from some entangled wires only suffering one cut on her upper front leg. She had subsequent vet visits, where she stood quiet and calm through injections and prodding from the vet. She really blossomed into a lovely kind horse.
In fact, the moment that has really stuck with me, over the last six months, happened one week ago, with the arrival of my third Kaimanawa. Fern gave birth. I have always played around with breeding horses, but never once have I actually made it there in time for the birth. Always getting there, five minutes to late. Not this time. Fern and I had gotten very close over the last few months, she neighed every time she saw me, was always waiting at the gate, and, in the last two weeks of pregnancy, had morphed into a big affectionate, cuddly, teddy bear. So it was easy to check on her through the night when I thought she was going to deliver. At three in the morning, when I had almost given up hope of her foaling before daylight, I went to check on her one more time. She walked toward me in the night. With a big whoosh, her waters broke. Five minutes later she lay down a few meters from me, and delivered a big healthy colt. So, now, Sonny makes three little Kaimanawa's. Fern has been the best mother possible, and I feel so privileged that she felt comfortable enough, to give birth right at my feet.
Having worked in top dressage stables, both in New Zealand, and Europe, I know how important it is to have horses that are trainable, and actually want to work for people. The Kaimanawa's lovely nature, shine through in this aspect. I have never worked with horses that are quite so easy to teach. But, the other gift they give is the thrill people get, being able to interact with an animal that was born wild. The children I give weekly lessons to go back to school telling stories of being able to pat 'the wild stallion'. My mother enjoys being able to just catch and groom Fern in her spare time. Friends and family, especially the otherwise non-horsey, always comment on the fact that the horses they saw as so wild to start with, can now be treated like normal domestic horses and interact with and accept any human who wishes to meet them.
In the next few months, Matai, the colt, will soon be broken in to ride. Fern gets a bit of time to be a mother before she too will be broken in. Little Sonny, gets to enjoy his mother's company, and hopefully soon will have some new friends to play with. For anyone interested I have a blog that documents all the progress, adventures and milestones that go with training these awesome wild horses. www.wildhorseproject.blogspot.com