For The Love Of Horses

Three sisters and an unforgettable journey to tame New Zealand's Kaimanawa horse.

For the Love of Horses is a heartfelt story about a life familiar to many young Kiwis who love horses - the trials and tears of Pony Club, the joy of riding bareback, and the pressures of adolescence and competitive showjumping. It is also the story of an unlikely childhood dream coming true.


Every year in the wilderness of the Central Plateau, wild Kaimanawa horses are rounded up and sent to the slaughterhouse. It's upsetting, but what else can be done? The Wilson sisters decide something could be done. They saw future champions behind the fiery eyes and beneath the shaggy coats. In this touching book, Kelly Wilson tells the true story of how they embarked on a courageous journey to train horses that most people believed were untrainable.


ABOUT THE Kaimanawa horses

New Zealand’s Kaimanawa horses are found on the North Island’s central plateau. Descended from army horses, farm escapees and those let loose on the roadside, Kaimanawa herds now roam free on the Kaimanawa Ranges. Unfortunately, herd numbers outweigh the food sources available, and every second year the Department of Conversation musters up to 200 of the horses to keep the numbers at around 300.


The horses are re-homed by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses if possible – or sent directly to slaughter if there are not enough homes available. At one time the majority of the Kaimanawas mustered were sent to the abattoir, but in recent years the increased publicity the Wilson sisters have helped generate has made a huge difference. In the 2016 muster, every horse was saved from slaughter – the first time this has ever happened in over 20 years of mustering.

Reviews from Readers

Just finished reading your book. You ladies are inspirational. Thank you for the tears and smiles your story brought. Keep up the amazing work - Joss


If there is one word I would use to describe this book it is 'heart'. Thanks Kelly for a great read, and thanks to all of you for your belief. - Astrid


Read this book over two, yes just two nights - they were long nights! Couldn't put it down, loved the honesty, the humility and the openness. Thank you Vicky, Kelly and Amanda for bearing your souls and sharing your wonderful journey. What an inspiration - money couldn't buy your journey in a million years!  - Leigh


Hahaha! See? It's not just me who stayed up all night to read the whole book in one go! ;-P

I LOVED 'For The Love Of Horses'! So much of your childhood with horses, paralleled my own & the feeling expressed really resonated. I know your story with Kaimanawa horses better than most & it was a very emotional read for me. Such an accurate, honest account, so beautifully written.

It's a beautifully produced book! Every detail has been well considered, from the luxurious embossed, fold out cover to the quality of page stock. But then anything less would not have done justice to the stunning photographs; each one, an artwork in its own right.

It's a well written, easy read which is compelling & supremely inspirational. The style of writing & the story itself, will appeal to all ages & will no doubt inspire future generations. It's certainly inspired this older one! - Simone Frewin, Kaimanawa Heritage Horses


What an incredible, heart wrenching read. Amazing effort Kelly.  Shows the Wilson Girls have "Come of Age". Each with your own very individual and unique talents. Congratulations to each, and all, of you. You are a true inspiration to all Horse Lovers. With horses there will always be heart-aches, but we know they always give of their very best, in return for kindness, love, and understanding. Fantastic effort "Team". Tremendous book, and read Kelly. – Ian


I have just read the book For the Love of Horses and want you to how inspiring your story is. Your passion and dedication is truely amazing. You should all be so proud of what you have achieved and what the future holds for you all. I have found your book very helpful as I am battling my way through accepting that I have an anxiety disorder. I have grown up with horses from a young age and at various times I have struggled with the curve balls that life has thrown. Recently I had a change in my life which forced me to face my fear of this anxiety monster. Your story and especially the work you have done with the Kaimanawas is proof that we should never give up on anything and even if the steps are small we can achieve so much and how rewarding this is even in the smallest of changes. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I really look forward to the next book that comes out. - Tania


From the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put this book down. Knowing the Wilsons and having followed their journey with their wild Kaimanawa ponies on Facebook, some of the stories and many of the images were familiar, but that didn't make the book any less enthralling to read. Their early struggles and humble beginnings were fascinating, and the images of the girls riding scruffy ponies in gumboots will seem a far cry from many who know them today as highly successful competition riders. Throughout the story there are two clear lessons to take away - the first is the power of perseverence and courage, often against impossible odds, and how much you can achieve if you follow your dreams, regardless of how far-fetched they seem; and the second is the importance of making sure that your horses are happy and enjoying their life in your company. This is one thing that so many riders and trainers seem to overlook, and even in years of riding it was Vicki who first emphasised to me, above all else, how important it is that your horse is happy. This is a true, unembellished story of three sisters' love for horses and their determination to get the most out of what life has to offer. Kelly wrote it beautifully and I was captivated from start to finish. I'll be recommending this book to everyone, whether they love horses or not! – Kate Lattey, Equestrian Author


I am about to finish reading ‘For the Love of Horses’ and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have not read for many years (actually, since having kids!), but bought your book while on holiday in Pambula (Australia) a few weeks ago. I now find myself reading whenever I have a moment - even if it’s only a few pages. I am wrapped that I have more of your books to follow on with. Thank you for bringing the joy of reading back to me - Michelle


I love all your books, I’m ten and I love the way you use words that I can understand! For the Love of horses is an amazing book, I love learning about how you grew up and became such good horse women. It is so inspirational to girls of all ages and has encouraged me to try some new skills with my pony! When I first saw the book I had a feeling that I was going to love it, the cover is so eye catching and I love the picture in the cover. I have now set myself 50 goals that I’m working toward! The pictures are just as good as the writing and I enjoy just looking at the pictures too! I now have all your books and enjoy them so much. I have read for the love of horses 5 times and never get bored of it!! - Poppy


For The love Of Horses is my favorite book; to hear about your humble beginnings is so inspirational, to see that there is still hope for those of us who don't have wealthy parents and expensive tack and horses... I do believe that everything you have today is a gift from God for what you have given back to help thousands of wild horses by showing people what they can be if you give them the chance... I hope to gentle and save unwanted horses one day too, not for fame but to genuinely help the horses... Thanks Kelly for this book I wont ever get bored of reading it, cant wait to read all you other books one day! Xxox – Tamara


To be completely honest it's hard to find a favourite out of your books though I think For the Love of Horses is my favourite. Its so inspiring to see how you guys started to where you are today with your horse work. How you can take a wild horse and change it in a few days to a curious and accepting horse. God has certainly given you girls a gift that you are using as an inspiration to others. You guys have inspired me to create a better bond with the horse I work with and to try things like bridleless riding. Thank you so much for writing these books! You and your sisters are a big inspiration for me and my sisters who ride.– Asti



For the Love of Horses was such an inspiration to me to remember that we can all rise from the ashes and become what we need to be. This book is proof that dreams can come true, with hard work and dedication. ❤ - Angie Bruce 


Reading about your lives in For the Love of Horses, as well as your love of the many horses and ponies who have been part of it, and the message of being able to achieve your dreams truly helped my daughter Jessica when she needed inspiration and distraction when battling through her illness and anxiety. I'm hoping we can get to this place once once 🙏🐎 - Sarah Rowland 


My daughter loves For The Love of Horses! She says that she loves that you don't need to start out with fancy gear and fancy horses and you can make anything great if you work through it and believe you can do something. Your books have given her inspiration with a sometimes difficult pony of her own and we are thankful for your talented writing and for being priviledged to read about your journies with some amazing animals. - Heidi Smith 


One of my favourite books is For The Love of Horses, I loved learning about the story of the wild Kaimanawa’s and the steps and challenges it took to tame them. I also loved how you were completely honest about the progress you were making with the horses! I learnt a lot about different ways to train and educate horses - overall the book was inspiring and a joy to read 💞🐎 - Ella Brinkworth 


Love the books, as well as your love of horses… and the freedom and tightness of you as kids and the amazing work ethic you all have. - Jo Rogers 


I've read all the books so far......many, many times! You are not only an amazing horsewoman and photographer but also an extremely talented writer that draws the reader in and allows us to vividly visualize your words and scenarios. My fav so far would have to be For the Love of Horses. You take the reader on such a journey and for that we are truly thankful! - Theresa Mason 


My daughter and I are both HUGE fans of all your books, but especially For the Love of Horses. She’s only 7, but has nearly finished reading it cover-to-cover and insists on issuing me with advice (all excellent and relevant!) based on your experiences! - Carlee McCaw 


10/10 for For the Love of Horses - after hearing about the Kaimanawa musters for so many years, it was really interesting to read an up-close account of a personal involvement. Great stories, great people - keep up the awesome work you do with horses! - Jenny Coyle 


I’ve almost finished reading your book For the Love of Horses and I am so in love, it’s relatable on so many levels and inspiring for all ages! I’ve never been so hooked on a book in my life! Can’t wait for your new book to come out, my goal is a save and tame a wild Kaimana one day! - Emma Johnson 


I like the first book of yours I read For The Love of Horses. Letting my daughter read it was so touching as we don't have much - solo mum, a little Kai pony, an dinky old float, everything secondhand etc – it helped my daughter realise she is just as able to win and succeed as those with unlimited budgets. Which I am very proud to say she did.. many trophies, rosettes and ribbons - but the prize was the connection with her horse and feeling just as worthy as the rich kids. The book is so well written and so humbling and inspiring. - Lisa Messenger 


The first book For the Love of Horses introduced me to the world of the Kaimanawa . The ups and downs, the laughter and tears. The books take you on such a wonderful journey. You show people that horses have unique personalities and when you do find a certain horse that you click with ,what a special friendship that can be. - Sharon Harlen 


My daughter must have read For the Love of Horses 10 times and still gets something out of reading it again. - Nicola Bennett


I love all your books but the one I have read the most is For The Love Of Horses as I love reading about the struggles you guys have had growing up and how far you have all come. I also loved hearing stories about the ponies and horses that helped you all become the amazing people you are today 💕 - Brodie Botica


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