Saving the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses

Elder and Marilyn Jenks 

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Charitable Trust

Photo courtesy of the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Trust © Kathy Wilson

Elder and Marilyn Jenks have been volunteering their devotion to the Kaimanawa horses since the 1990’s. During this time they have been responsible for saving the lives of more than a 1,000 wild horses. These horses were destined to be destroyed, or sent to the abattoirs. Instead, their lives have been transformed into useful and very capable pleasure and sport horses.

The environment of the Central Plateau and the Kaimanawa Ranges is a harsh one, and, because of this, the horses are tough and resilient. When handled proficiently, they make excellent riding horses and faithful, trusting, and loving companions.

Back in the 1990’s, the New Zealand Army and Department of Conservation were in dispute with Animal Welfare groups. There was disagreement about the best solution for dealing with the increasing numbers of wild horses.

Nowadays, due in large part to the leadership and conciliatory work of Elder and Marilyn, these groups all work together for the welfare of these special horses.

In the past 20 years the Jenks have been responsible for saving the lives of more than a 1,000 wild horses.

Kaimanawa Horses Partnering with People

Photo courtesy of the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Trust

The Jenks’ involvement does not end with the horses’ biennial Muster and placement into suitable homes. Each year they organise a Show, specifically for Kaimanawas, with sponsored prizes to encourage owners to bring along their ex-wild horses.

The support and encouragement that Elder and Marilyn have given to Kaimanawa owners over the years is amazing.

They have opened their home and property on numerous occasions, held clinics on horsemanship, barbeques, shows, and even started a range of Kaimanawa clothing and merchandise – all to raise funds to save the wild horses and awareness to their plight.

Visiting the Wild Horses

Photo courtesy of the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Trust © Kathy Wilson

Each year, with the co-operation and assistance of the NZ Army and Department of Conservation, the Jenks’ organise a bus trip into the Ranges, to view the Kaimanawa horses in their natural habitat. This creates a genuine interest with the public, and encourages people to adopt horses from the next Muster. Or, if that isn’t possible, many people are willing to sponsor a horse in KHH's care. From small beginnings of just one bus, the most recent excursion was 12 buses over 2 days, and involving 600 passengers!

Anyone traveling the Desert Road in recent times will have noticed a large sign beside State Highway 1, another of the Jenk's projects to raise awareness of the horses as our national treasures. The sign shows a magnificent stallion and calls the area the “Home of Kaimanawa Heritage Horses.”

In 2015, Elder and Marilyn made the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. They were each awarded a QSM (Queen’s Service Medal) in recognition of their tireless service to Kaimanawa Heritage Horses. Come meet Marilyn and Elder at the 2018 Spirit Horse Festival. 

Marilyn and Elder Jenks established the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Charitable Trust to mobilise resources to place horses destined for slaughter into caring homes.  

At the Spirit Horse Festival, the Jenks will be presenting their documentary film on the plight of the horses and efforts to raise awareness about their conservation.

Find out more about our presenters and what's in store for the 2018 festival program

  • December 26, 2017