Three Hukerenui sisters recognised nationally as leading horse trainers are working to save a special Kaimanawa horse from being slaughtered.
Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson have been breaking in 11 Kaimanawa horses saved from the biennial muster in the central North Island.
Horses are mustered at the end of May, to control numbers in the herd to protect the health of the horses and of their Waiouru habitat. The number mustered this year was 191, and 119 were re-homed to be trained. The remainder were slaughtered, as is routine, and more could be on the chopping block if their training isn't successful.
That includes the Wilson sisters' 12-year-old stallion, Sergeant KH, who needs about another six months' work before he can be assessed as suitable for rehoming.
Sergeant KH was on his way to the meatworks earlier this year, when the Wilson girls stepped in. The horse was mustered about 13 years ago and taken in by a Waikato woman, who separated him from other mares she had taken in, and didn't give him sufficient attention and care. As a result, he was deemed unfit for rehoming, but the stock truck driver who collected him saw some promise in him and contacted Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, a charitable organisation which advocates for and rehomes Kaimanawa.
They then got in touch with the Wilsons who took Sergeant KH on.
Kelly Wilson said they were expecting an aggressive, difficult horse, but that wasn't what they got.
"I literally walked into the stock truck and put a halter on him," Kelly said.
The cost of gelding Sergeant and having his teeth taken care of will be about $3000, which will likely be met by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses.
The Wilsons have embarked on an online fundraising campaign to help raise the funds.
Follow the Wilson sisters' journey online at www.windeaters.com Donate at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/SergeantKH