Happy Herd, Happy Life
It began with a dream
Fourteen years ago we decided to breathe life into Johns dreams.
Together we constructed the foundations of our business and the universe supported us on every level.
Many discussions were held around the dinner table, considering all aspects of the role that our horses would face.
Reaching into the past to continue traditions of success
John wanted to replicate the traditional Kiwi, “station bred” horses that had so successfully navigated mountains, rivers and lakes for the Maori’s, Gold Miners and Pioneers.
These horses had to be flexible enough to
- work the fields with a plough
- shepherds to muster the sheep and cattle off the mountains
- take the kids to ride to school
- pull the wagon into town for the groceries and
- take the families to church on a Sunday
Our town of Waimate had been a bush town, milling timber from the Hunter hills to sell to industry.
Horses were so important to our local community that they have a white horse up on the hill in celebration. Recently refurbished in 2022
A tall dark hansom “Shire” Stallion
The stallion we leased was a beautiful Shire called,” Supreme” owned by the late Larry.
As we collected him from the paddock, Larry’s wee Daughter (who would have been no more than four at the time) wrapped her arms around his front legs and hugged Supreme a loving “goodbye” That is when we knew we had chosen the sire well, his nature was so very gentle and kind yet there was no doubting he was a stallion strong, handsome and looking for love.
Lets give racing horses a life after the track
We advertised for brood mares from the racing fraternity, wanting to give them a chance of life off the track. To live in a herd where they could enjoy raising a family as nature intended.
Our phone was inundated with calls from owners of trotters, pacers and gallopers pleased to have found them a new home.
“Winchester”, a trotting mare (owner, an elderly man) cried when he said goodbye to her as he told us she was his favorite horse. Insisting he loaded her onto the truck his self, he was so pleased she was going to have a great life
“Thunder” was the first foal born into our family, to “Winchester”
Nine strong foals hit the ground, these were the foundations of the life we now live.
The landscape was rolling and rugged, foals quickly learned to pick up their feet.
They lived in a family group with Mum, Dad and cousins sharing precious time in a loving herd environment.
As foals are weaned they are handled, taught to lead, pick up feet, be together with humans and then turned out in a group of youngsters.
Each spring our new foals are welcomed into the herd with Dad’s present, they know they can grow strong and happy, protected by those who love them. As Mum comes down off the hill with her newest foal, the previous foals gallop over to greet her and their new sibling. They look so very proud and it is very moving to see.
When littler siblings are worried about something, often they are found close to the older Brother/Sister or aunt and Uncle, seeking that protection. (Hazel and Panda often take on this role within the herd)
Hard to believe our herd is now sixty strong
Into the future
From tiny foals watch family members working as pack horses, progressing through to the riding string. They often stand, heads on the rails at the stable fence just watching what’s going on.
When they decide ok, I want to start my career, they follow us everywhere, you can feel them saying, “come on, pick me today please” as we sort through the horses for the days work.
Sadly, not every horse makes the string and with some horses choosing a different career in hunting or as a one Woman horse. It is a big ask for horses to accept the change of riders as often as our adventure horses do. It is certainly not to every horses liking.
Its in the DNA
We have a temperament log that begins with each horse as foals are weaned.
It is amazing how that DNA brings out the same traits. Hank the Tank, Calamity Jane, Hector and Walter are Brothers and Sister.
If they are tied in the yard, everyone knows, as they will stamp the front right foot loudly until someone comes.
As a fifth generation horseman John uses a mixture of natural horsemanship and family developed techniques. Maintaining the horse’s sense of dignity and allowing it to use its own brain and think for itself. We are seeking a team of horses who choose to work beside us as a cohesive team, sharing so many wonderful adventures together.
At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other’s very well-being.Unknown
Horses touch your heart
As a prey animal horses live in the hear and now, they sense your heartbeat at 10 feet away, they are incredible psychic beings and they know what your intent is towards them when you approach.
Ears rotate 360 degrees and eyes are perched on the side of their heads to give amazing peripheral vision, nothing escapes their notice.
As a herd they have “generals” whose job it is to keep everyone safe, reporting anything that may be perceived as a threat to the lead mare. Recognizing each of these hierarchical elements is to live within the herd and gain respect and acceptance as a leader and team member. It is not every family that are as lucky as we are to live this way so connected to their horses, we all feel so very blessed. The leader of our larger herd is Hannah, with Hazel, Breeze and Thistle her generals. The stallions live in a separate group with their own mares and foal’s but the leader of our larger herd is Ringo Star with Panda and Smokey his generals. As they fragment into smaller herds when they are working in the summer months it is so interesting to watch as the lower ranking generals step up to protect their herd.
Trail riding is a unique experience, it gives the rider a chance to enter this world.
Sharing time with a horse that has been purpose bred for the work, takes it to a whole new level.
So many times, our customers say how much they have been touched by the gentility, strength and honesty of our horses. The way they dig in and climb the mountains, carrying the riders safely to the summit so that they can enjoy the spectacular scenery together.
We have a selection of riders who are physically challenged, we call them our “inspirational Ladies and Gents” who want to enjoy adventures in the wilderness and the horses work so hard to protect them, gearing to their needs and conquering the challenges together, it is truly amazing to watch.
Without realizing it the horses weave a spell on the hearts of the riders and many times as a trail finishes, riders are reduced to tears at having to part company with the horse they have shared an amazing adventure with and come to love.
During the first world war horses played an integral part, entering the hell along side their human companions.
In Aotearoa, New Zealand 10,000 horses left our shores between 1914 and 1916. Three percent of the horses died enroute.
They served in Gallipoli, German Samoa, on the Western Front or in the Middle East. Officers and mounted troops rode half of these horses. The remainder, generally the heavy draught horses were used as pack horses and in harness to service the artillery.
Sadly, many contracted diseases or suffered injury during the conflict. Of those that survived the actual war only four returned to New Zealand’s shores. Many were slaughtered, sold or kept for use by the British Army. This led to an acute shortage of transport.
Only four horses that returned home, each officers horses,
- Beauty; Late Captain Richard Riddlford
- Bess; Captain Charles Powles
- Dolly; General Sir Andrew Russell
- a Gelding, to the late lieutenant Colonel George King (thanks nzhistory.govt.nz)
Repatriated from France to England in 1919 and subjected to 12 months quarantine, arriving back in New Zealand in July 1920.
You can only imagine how they felt. If you are reading this, please take a moment of quiet reflection, animals give so much to humans expecting nothing in return.
This planet would be a very sad place without our companions on this journey.
Ka mahara tatou ki a ratou (we will remember them) https://www.mfiles.co.uk/scores/the-last-post.htm