Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day out at the dunes

 I was talking about how good things take time in my last post, well here is a video of my amazing Bear. Just a fun video made by a friend of our day out riding in the sand dunes.

Complete with bloopers Bear shows off his Kaimanawa sensibility and chooses to not jump but just trot over a big rock as well as have a little nap at the end, although this wasnt exactly a blooper as this lie down was intended. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Never Give Up

Good things take time, great things take even longer.

Bear has never been the easiest horse, in fact I would say he's been one of the bigger equine challenges I've ever faced. Not because he was bad, but unlike all the other wild horses he didn't adjust as easily to domestic life. He found everything to be a far more terrifying experience than the rest. It's taken just over a year to get to this point, and there's been up and downs along the way.

But today I have a horse I would trust anywhere. I took him for a ride with a friend and not only was it a long float trip, but we negotiated our way through crashing waves, over rocks, mountainous sand dunes and wide open spaces. 

I have a horse I can trust to take me anywhere, good on his feet I felt safer riding this horse on some of the steepest terrain ever, than I have riding any other horse.

There has been times I thought I'd never get anywhere, I thought I should give up and wondered if I was doing the right thing by this horse, would he ever be happy in this life?

Today I think I have a happy horse, and got to enjoy some of the best riding this country has to offer. Never give up, it's worth it in the end.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Mongol Derby

The cats our of the bag, and it's time to announce that in six weeks I will be getting on a plane for Mongolia. 

I'm going to compete in the worlds toughest and longest horse race the legendary Mongol Derby. One thousand kilometres and twenty-six different horses in the words of the organisers

"This is no guided tour, or pony trek. There is no marked course, no packed lunches, no shower block, no stabling. That’s the whole point. It's just you, your team of horses and a thousand kilometres of Mongolian wilderness.  And possibly a GPS.  You must change horses at every station and deliver your mounts to their destination in mint condition. But how you navigate between them is where your adventure begins...."

Of course I'm doing this for a good cause to and will be raising money for two fantastic charities along the way. One is Kiwi Care Team and the other is Cool Earth. 

This is going to be the hardest, scariest and most challenging thing I've ever done. Not only coping with different horses, and the elements, but there is no one out there to help you, to guide or to come looking for you. But  as the birthplace of domestic horses and the last place on earth that still has wild horses, it's somewhere I've always longed to go. This blog is not called the Wild Horse Project for no reason.

Helping me get fit along the way will be my two ex-wild stallions Matariki and Bear who are both broken in and going beautifully under saddle. Hopefully photos to come soon. The goal is to be able to ride 100km a day for the entire race. So before I leave I will be spending as many hours a day in the saddle as possible,  not just on one horse but spreading it out between all of them. Bear and Matariki being the closest in size and stature to the horses I'll be riding  pin Mongolia are going to be the best at getting me fit, so in a few months there will be some very fit wild horses and hopefully a fit rider too.

But I'm going to need your help as well, I need to raise money for the two charities I support so I've set up a Give a Little page where you can donate as little as a dollar and the money goes towards helping me reach my fundraising goals. 

For me this isn't just a race. It's a chance to see the homeland of horses, learn more about wild horses and their heritage. See humans and animals interact in one of the most ancient cultures and challenge myself in the most wide open and remote places left on earth.

Please visit  

Bring on the challenge, help me and be part of the adventure!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ten reasons to adopt wild horses

It's been just over a year since the the last muster and the arrival of the five stallions and a fraction over three years since Matai and Fern first arrived. Sadly I had a crashed computer and no Internet to celebrate this milestone, so instead a little bit late I'm putting together a list about why people should start thinking about getting organised and adopting from next muster.

1. The Kaimanawa wild horses make great domestic horses. They adapt well to domestic life and love stables, hay, being fed, covered and protected from the elements, as well as all the luxuries involved with becoming regular horses. If given the choice all of my wild horses choose to hang out in the barn or around the house. There is no pining for the wild open spaces from this lot.

2. They are not just little brown ponies. The Kaimanawa horses now more than ever are proving to be fantastic competition mounts and are excelling in a huge variety of disciplines. Pony of the Year was won by a Kaimanawa. A gelding from the 2012 muster was competing at Horse of the Year Show this year in Show hunter. From the ones I personally have dealt with they have gone n to be pony club mounts, dressage, showjumping, and a range of other things, including eventing which I compete in on my own Fern, who is a far more talented jumper than any of my purpose bred horses.

3. They are not that little. While in the past, the horses mustered have been very small, nowadays with herd numbers reduced and less competition for food and water, the horses brought out are bigger and better developed thn ever before. Fern is 15hh and her foal, now two and a half, born just a few months after she was mustered, already is a big solid 15.2hh.
Sonny, Ferns foal as a yearling....not so small.

4. They come in a range of colours and types. Greys, bays, blacks, chestnuts with flackens manes, browns, liver chestnut the list goes on. They come in a few different types to from solid pony types to taller more old military stock looking animals.

5. There are now a lot more people like me who are willing and able to do the initial handling. You don't have to be the horse whisper to think about adopting a wild horse! Horses can go straight from muster to us, and we can produce them in a few weeks to be normal domestic horses. Halter trained, trucking, floating, hoof care and handling, covered and for the older horses breaking in, all before the reach your door.

6. They are sensible. Once used to people and having learnt the basics of being a domestic horse, Kaimanas are very sensible, stoic and calm creatures. In my experience ether are far less flighty and will calmly figure things out unlike some highly strung domestic horses. Ex wild horses are far from wild in their behaviour. They even accept going to horse shows and other new experiences far easier than most domestic horses. Used to conserving energy and surviving on ther own, they don't waste energy being stupid, and are also extremely sure footed in all sorts of conditions.

7. They are easy keepers. Used to surviving  in the wild on very little tucker, they don't need much food, or any fancy feed regimes to keep the looking fat and healthy. They will eat pretty much anything, although it does sometimes take a few weeks to get them over there suspicion of hard feed, carrots and apples. But once they know what it is there is no turning back. Kaimanawa horses are cheap to run, compared to your average Thoroughbreds, warmbloods and competition horses. They have good constitutions, stong bones and good hard feet once they have had a few initial trims.

8.There is no denying it is immensly satisfying to own a once wild horse. You are saving a life, and getting an amazing equine that can be used for anything your heart desires. It a huge sense of achievement  reaching all the little milestones along the way, even just leading, putting a cover on for the first time, or the big one of finally riding your very own wild horse. Kaimanawas also do tend to bond very closely to one person, which is reward in itself.

9. It's a relatively cheap way to get a fantastic horse. Adoption fees are very low, there is the transport fee and if your sending it to some one like me for the initial handling that cost as well, but your still looking at costs ranging from just a few hundred to only a few thousand dollars to have a well trained and lovely horse.

10. THEY NEED HOMES!!! Foals, weanlings, and young horses are a great way to start being slightly easier initially and adapting almost immediately to domestic life, if your thinking about your first wild horse. Mares too are fantastic even though they do usually come pregnant, this is just a bonus as it means you get a cute little baby in a few months. Stallions are great, and I have never had problems, but I don't recommend them for first time owners, unless you are getting someone else to start them. To many horses still go to slaughter every muster. So lets make next muster the best ever, you have a year to get ready, so get organised and think about adopting a wild horse today!