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Kaimanawa tally 155, with two-thirds off to homes

June 5, 2010

This year's Kaimanawa muster in the central North Island saw 155 horses pulled from the ranges, with 105 destined for new homes.

The helicopter-driven muster ran like clockwork on Wednesday, resulting in 130 horses being collected in holding pens in the Argo Valley.

Another 20 or so were gathered early yesterday and another half dozen were brought in after being spotted in a no-go area, which is considered unsuitable for wild horses because of native vegetation.

Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust chairman Elder Jenks, who headed into the back country for the muster, said the condition of the 155 horses gathered was superb.

In all, 105 are destined for new homes and the remaining 50, all older animals, were sent for slaughter.

Jenks said the last of the horses left the Argo Valley yards around 1pm yesterday and should have been at holding yards around the North Island by nightfall.

From there, the animals will be sorted further and will then go to their new homes.

Jenks said his trust had managed to find homes for 86 horses.

Homes found by the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society brought the number off to new homes to 105.

Jenks said they had selected what he described as a beautiful black stallion to head for a South Island home, along with four mares.

Their placements also included eight mares with foals at foot.

The horses were taken from an area south-south-west of Waiouru army camp and another area north-north-east of the camp.

This year's muster was marked by a greater than usual request for older horses, meaning fewer went to slaughter.

The targeted number of horses this year was 150. The successful muster means that the herd is down to its management target of 300 animals and no operation will be required for two years.

Jenks said the herd would grow at a rate of 20 per cent a year, meaning there would be 360 horses next year and the following year there would be around 420 horses when it came to muster time.

Jenks hoped that the results of a four-year long-term contraceptive trial in wild horses in the United States would be completed by then.

He hoped that using a long-term contraceptive on some of the mares might be an option by the 2012 muster.

He was unsure what effect the intention of mustering every second year would have on the age distribution of the herd.

Jenks said the entire operation went very well, but it was always sad to see any horses having to go to slaughter.

The muster was originally scheduled for a week ago, but unsuitable weather had forced a delay.



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