Keeping up with the Kaimanawas




Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson are three of New Zealand’s most prominent and popular Show Jumping riders and in early 2012 they saved 11 wild Kaimanawa horses from slaughter during the biannual muster. Flaunting convention they began working with the wild horses in the hopes they could raise the profile of the horses and prove they were both trainable and talented.

Of the 11 horses they saved there were four adult stallions and two lead mares, horses that many believed could not be safely domesticated. The story that follows is one of infinite compassion, unconditional love and unparalleled perseverance as the three sisters work together to tame and train the horses.

Just 15 days after the horses were mustered from the wild, the first mare was ridden and only seven weeks later the 8-year-old stallion, Gizmo, competed at his first show. These milestones were all cause for celebration and throughout the year, every horse was allowed to progress at their own speed, some taking 250 days to achieve what others had in a mere three weeks. Their success with the 17-year-old stallion, Major, was perhaps the most inspiring, defying popular belief that older stallions are too difficult to train.

The journey was not without it’s challenges though and their documentary, Wind Eaters, captures the raw spirit of the wild horses, showing that although they may be difficult to train and at times dangerous, they are also willing and adaptable to change when trained correctly.

The Wilson sisters began their work with the wild Kaimanawas horses hoping to develop one into a top competition prospect and they exceeded all expectations with Ranger and Momento. Ranger qualified to compete in the prestigious Show Hunter of the Year Title just 9 months after he was mustered and then went on to impress the crowded grandstands with his bareback and bridleless jumping, vaulting displays and being jumped over by another stallion during his public performances at Equidays and the Horse of the Year Show. Ranger’s outstanding attitude has made him the poster boy for the wild horses and he has made appearances on television and has been ridden by eventing legend Sir Mark Todd.

Their work with the wild horses gained international recognition after they won the prestigious FEI Solidarity Award, ahead of Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester and the Best Use of Social Media in Australia and New Zealand during the 2013 Equestrian Social Media Awards. It has been a life changing journey for the three rural sisters and what started out as unassuming project has firmly catapulted them onto the world stage for their innovative approach to raising awareness about the plight of the wild horse.

From the mountains to the competition arena, the Wilson sister’s have proven that every wild horse has the potential to be special if they are trained with compassion and understanding. In just one year, their journey has challenged people’s mind sets across every corner of the globe and it is hoped that thousands of wild horses will benefit from their example.

In June 2014 they will once again save horses from slaughter during the biennial musters and their documentary Wind Eaters will be released in cinemas nationwide.

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