Applications for the 2014 muster of wild horses which inhabit New Zealand’s Kaimanawa Ranges have closed, with a total of 141 received.
This year’s Department of Conservation muster is aiming for the removal of 180 animals from their central North Island rangelands, meaning most of those best-suited for rehoming should go to new owners.
The Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society said on its Facebook page that it would accept applications in its mailbox on Monday morning, but the application period was otherwise closed.
Final numbers to be rehomed would change after its volunteers carried out the mandatory home checks and review of references from those seeking the wild horses.
The state-funded musters are undertaken to keep the population in check. The society seeks suitable homes as an alternative to the horses going to slaughter.
Horses from each muster leave the muster yards in trucks bound either for their new homes, or direct to slaughter.
The official count from the aerial census conducted by the department in March indicated there were 469 Kaimanawa horses within the designated management zone and another 38 horses outside the area.
The department aims to maintain the wild horse population at 300 horses, making the mustering and removal of excess horses necessary.
It is estimated that 393 of the horses within the zone are adults and 76 are juveniles.
Kaimanawa Heritage Horses commits to taking all of the unplaced foals and yearlings, but horses as young as two years and everything older all face the abattoir unless homes can be found.
In 2012, the group had 179 horses to place. It found homes for 119 horses and the remainder went to slaughter.
Kaimanawas are generally ponies between 13.2 hands and 14.2 hands. The occasional animal matures to 15 hands, but they are rare. They are mostly bay/brown or chestnut. There are blacks and greys, but no coloured horses.
Kaimanawa horses have made headlines in equestrian circles since the 2012 muster.
They have grown in stature by proving both trainable and talented.