A campaign has been launched to find homes for more than 170 Kaimanawa wild horses scheduled to be mustered from the central North Island in late May.
Horses for which homes cannot be found will be slaughtered.
The horses will be removed from the Kaimanawa ranges in the Department of Conservation muster, which is now held every two years.
Kaimanawa Heritage Horses is urging people interested in taking a horse or horses to make their application now.
Spokesman Elder Jenks said: “The next muster will not be held until mid-2014, so anyone who wants to take on a wild Kaimanawa should act now.
“This coming muster is the only chance people will have in the next two years to take a Kaimanawa horse straight from the wild,” he said.
“Once handled, Kaimanawa wild horses have exceptional temperaments and are delightful ponies to interact with.
“They’re flourishing in Pony Clubs around New Zealand as great all-rounders and are highly sought-after as jumpers, eventers and games ponies.”
This year, a Kaimanawa horse, Watch Me Move, won the Pony of the Year award in show jumping at the prestigious Horse of the Year show.
Prospective Kaimanawa owners need to contact Kaimanawa Heritage Horses urgently, as applications to take a horse close on May 15.
The cost for taking a Kaimanawa horse from this year’s muster has been set at $250 for the first horse and $220 for subsequent horses. Mare and foal combinations are $400.
The cost includes processing of applications, including referee checks, home inspection, and transport from the muster site to a central distribution point, as well as membership and registration of the horse with Kaimanawa Heritage Horses.
A gelding rebate of $75 is also available to new owners who take colts.
Jenks said new Kaimanawa owners had access to a strong support network and should feel free to contact the organisation if they had any questions about the horses or the application process.
Those who would like to take a wild Kaimanawa but would prefer it to receive basic handling before coming to their property can arrange to have horses delivered direct to their handler.
Kaimanawa Heritage Horses is a registered charity and welcomes donations from those who want to help save Kaimanawa horses but are unable to take a horse themselves. All donations go towards helping save the horses and are tax deductible.
“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for people to contact us immediately if they want to take a
Kaimanawa from this year’s muster,” Jenks said.
“As always, those horses that can’t be rehomed will be slaughtered and that is a tragic and unnecessary end for animals that are unique part of New Zealand’s heritage.”
Further information and application forms for muster horses are available on the the charity’s website,
www.KaimanawaHeritageHorses.org, or by calling (09) 431 6111.