THE COST OF SAVING MY WILD STALLIONS
21st September 2018
After a hefty vet bill for Lieutenant today, after needing rig surgery in Auckland, I was curious to see how much my five Kaimanawas have cost so far to save them from slaughter. Since they arrived from the muster 152 days ago (Captain) and 103 days ago (Concord, Admiral, Allegiance and Lieutenant) I have kept track of their expenses, since much of their costs were covered by public donations. Adding in the latest vet bill I have now spent $17,638.50 on these horses, not including my time, of which $13,898 was sponsored.
$9000 of that came from the Argo KH Fund, a Give-A-Little page which our family set up this year to help ensure mature stallions, just like Vicki's stallion Argo from the 2014 muster, would have a second chance at life; every $2250 raised would place a horse with a professional trainer, covering the expenses of its first three months in domestication, while the actual training would be donated by the handler, as well as all ongoing care. The page raised $15,345, saving seven mature stallions; four were assigned to me (Concord, Admiral, Allegiance and Lieutenant), one went to my sister Amanda (Rafiki) and two to Chloe Phillips-Harris of Wild Horse Project (Courageous and Cadet).
In a matter of complete transparency, I have outlined below how I spent my $9000 share of the Give-A-Little money, so you can see how crucial your donations were in saving the lives of these special horses. PLEASE NOTE: The costs in blue are still to be incurred once Concord reaches an appropriate level of training.
Training Captain, Concord, Allegiance, Admiral and Louie has been a full-time commitment for the past five months but I've loved every minute of it. These wild Kaimanawas are truly incredible and to have had their lives end in the slaughter yards would have been tragic. Thank you to every one that donated, I couldn't have done it without you.
GELDING: Our local vets charged $400 per horse for gelding, however, Louie was found to be a rig and required an additional surgery in Auckland which cost another $1200. On top of this, all of the Kaimanawas were prepared for the vet with Dorm (an oral sedation which cost $40 per horse and is accounted for under Misc). PLEASE NOTE: KHH also offer all owners a rebate of $75 per stallion to help compensate for gelding costs.
HOOF CARE: We trim all our own horses, however, both Lieutenant and Captain arrived footsore, most likely from being partially mustered down gravel roads, and required a full set of shoes to maintain soundness. Both horses are now unshod and are sound.
HAY: Because the wild horses have to be yarded for initial handling, they go through a lot of hay and balage. Even once they are out in paddocks, we were having to supplement winter grazing. Our Kaimanawas averaged about 6-8 slices each while yarded, then 4-6 slices a day once out in paddocks.
TEETH: It is standard practice for every horse that arrives at our property to have equine dental care done annually. Most of the Kaimanawas were routine, for horses that have never had their teeth done before (sharp hooks, wolf teeth which needed to be removed and sharp edges), with the exception of Admiral who had a decayed molar which had to be removed.
ULCER: While gastric ulcers are unlikely in wild horses, the stress of the muster and transport means they is a high chance they develop them in the early stages of captivity. With the exception of Admiral, all of my Kaimanawas showed symptoms of having ulcers and were treated with Gastropal - all showed significant improvement following treatment. To read more about ulcers: https://thehorse.com/118592/diagnosing-and-treating-gastric-ulcers-in-horses/
BODY WORK: Both Louie and Captain had pain related issues which have required body work. From our experience, we have found a number of our wild horses, especially stallions, have injuries from there time in the wild, most likely from stallion fights. However, in this instance, most of Captain's injuries were sustained while coming out of sedation post gelding. Both horses have improved dramatically since receiving regular treatments and should have no long-term issues. These treatments were provided at no cost by Vicki Wilson, who specialises in rehabilitating sore horses.
FEED: Our wild Kaimanawas took up to a month to transition to hard feed, using first chaff, then slowly introducing CopRice Performer. Eventually, the chaff was faded out. Captain and Allegiance have been fed 1.5kg of CopRice Performer daily and 0.5kg of CopRice High Joule, while Concord, Admiral and Lieutenant have been fed 1kg of CopRice Performer.
MINERALS: For as long as the Kaimanawas have been eating hard feed, they have also been having minerals. They get 50ml of TuffRock GI daily to help with the prevention of ulcers, magnesium, turmeric, selenium, salt blocks and Equibrew (donated as part of the KHH packs every owner received with their Kaimanawas). Equibrew was also put in the Kaimanawas water in the month leading up to them eating hard feed.
MISC: All five of my Kaimanawas arrived from the muster with Ring Worm, and the four from the June Muster also arrived with Lice - these treatment costs are included in Misc, along with sedations, Admiral's Height Certificate, and the sawdust and bark needed for the yards.
DISCLAIMER: While all of these costs are not relevant for every wild horse saved, we are committed to proving our wild horses with a holistic approach to their care.