Our Horses have the ultimate life as they run free in huge paddocks, yet happily come in for treks as they enjoy people contact and their rewards of treat food, grooming, a stress free ride all finished off with a sponge bath.
The following is a school speech by Lonay Berry (15 years old) published in the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses magazine, Aug 2013 issue. The speech relates to one of Horse Trek'n Piko Valley's Kaimanawas named "Peaches".
Tussocks wave in the breeze. The long slow sigh of mother nature ... followed by the pounding of hooves and a group of youngsters came bounding and leaping over the brow of the hill. They pause, then rub and bite each other. Their manes and tails are long and shaggy, they swirl and twist in the stiff cool breeze that blows up the gully. Their coats are rough with patches of mud caked on their rumps and backs just like mine.
However, their faces all vary in shades of bay with various markings shared between them." This is how I know that they are not part of my herd. You see my mother and I have tan coats with snow blonde manes..we are almost a palomino.
I live in the central north island of New Zealand, in a vast 50km uninhabited range, covered with mountains and luscious green grass..A truly peaceful place south of lake Taupo and East of Desert road, known as the Kaimanawa ranges.
Oh I almost forgot to introduce myself, my name as of last year is peaches..like the fruit. And I'm going to tell you about my traumatizing event that forced me out of my comfort zone, perhaps for the better I am still unsure.
I was uncomfortable On the 26th of May 2012.It seemed like just another day , I was enjoying myself grazing alongside my mother and six other members of our herd when suddenly in the distance I herd the horrifying beating of wings..This sound has been foretold for centuries throughout all the wild kaimanawa herds, for along with this sound came what you humans would call a muster.
Twenty years ago in 1993 Doc otherwise known as the department of conservation arranged for the first ever kaimanawa muster on my fellow herds where they rounded up approximately 1,100 horses. Every two years a muster occurs where they round up as many as possible wild kaimanwa horses and send half to be sold and the other half consisting of foals and horses aged 4 years upwards to be killed, in order to protect some endangered foliage from the horses and to keep the population below 500, However DoC has gone against their word as the amount of current wild kaimanawa horse population has dropped dangerously under 250.
As the helicopters approached so did numerous other horses, and my herd had no option but to comply with the running kaimanawa's and join in with the roundup or face being shot and killed.
I was uncomfortable when 190 horses and I were pushed into crowded old pens, surrounded by unfamiliar horses. We remained there for 8 hours kicking and biting each other in fear as one by one we were categorised into separate pens. Mares 4 years upwards and foals in the first, stallions in the second, and the youngsters including myself in the next two pens.
I stood there gazing at the horses being loaded aboard the large trucks knowing where their destination would be, and that where I realised who was being forced onto the truck, my beautiful mother.. My eyes glazed over and I whinnied as loud as possible so she knew I love her. The door was then lifted up and came to a crashing seal.. the engine started and the truck along with my mother vanished, never to be seen again.
That day 85 horses were sent to their deaths at the abattoir 60 of those were foals or pregnant and my mother was included.
I was uncomfortable when it was my turn to be forcefully loaded aboard a truck with 7 other youngsters, we were strangers to each other. But the fright of our new destination over-ruled the awkwardness shared between us youngsters.
We arrived at a strange place that seemed full of humans and known as Taranaki..and the very moment the metal truck doors opened all 8 of us scarpered off the truck and started curiously examining our paddock and stretching our aching joints.
I was uncomfortable when I realised I would have been at that paddock in Taranaki for 14 sunrises or as humans call them, days. Before a dark skinned woman and her daughter came and examined us all.
And the very next day I was loaded once again back onto a truck with 2 other companions of mine named Pepsi and Joey, they were both dark bay with white blazes streaking down their faces.
An hour passed and we were let out again into some large pens..like the ones we were mustered into, the air had a strong scent of cows and jotted on the horizon were small fluffy white animals that looked like clouds and a cool stiff breeze swished above our heads.
I became less uncomfortable after 2 months had passed. However, My young companion Pepsi did not feel safe or happy in these training pens and died in a failed attempt to escape, on the 2nd of July 2012 the stress of everything caused me to miscarry my nearly developed foal..
I gave birth and She came out and just laid there on the ground.. lifeless , with no pulse in her small delicate body..I became depressed, my mother was murdered, my friend died and my baby has passed away just to protect some endangered foliage.
However the kind dark haired lady Debbie and her daughter Lonay were very supportive and understanding about my pain and treated Joey and I very well..But they kept putting a solid heavy thing on my back and sitting in it while I walked about which was very irritating, I think they called it a saddle or something or rather.
I was uncomfortable again when I was loaded onto a float this time, with Joey by my side. We drove for 2 hours endlessly through Urenui and into the country-side and arrived at a ginormous back-country farm situated on piko road.
We drove through the gate and past the signs that read 'horse trekn piko valley' and heard welcoming whinnies, I was so shy yet excited..There is a herd on this farm.
When we ran off the float Joey and I were greeted by 20 , no 40 horses. They all varied in size, colour, breeds, and characteristics felt safe like everything would be okay again. I was surrounded by horses just like at home on my kaimanawa ranges.
I am no longer uncomfortable, Joey and I have Lived on the 'Horse trekn Piko valley' farm and participated in the business for Over one year. I have met completely new friends who have become my new family..
I get fed everyday and I get to explore about a 1200km farm, I get massages and pats. I am now a domesticated horse, however "you can take the horse out of the wild but you can't take the wild out of the horse".
Everyday I still search for my murdered mother , dead companion and deceased daughter...but this is my home now. I am aware that I am only a 4 year old horse but I am going to leave you with one question.. what gives humans the right to decide who dies and who does not just to protect some foliage?
My name is peaches and this is my story.