Meet The Horses

Meet The Horses 2020-08-11T00:52:15+00:00

Meet The Horses

We have a mix of horses at the stables. These include Kaimanawa (NZ Wild horse), and NZ Station bred which is a cross of Clydesdale, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, and Arabian. Also, Tennessee Walking and American Saddlebred.

All our horses are ridden bit less and barefoot. No metal in their mouths or on their hooves.

Click here to find out more about Natural Horsemanship, how we train our horses and why we choose to train them this way.

The Boys

Mr T

Mr T affectionately known as “T” joined the Stables team at the beginning of 2017. Initially standoffish and of the opinion humans were idiots, which he could be right about. He had been there and done that, so what did we know. We had a challenge finding him a saddle that fitted him comfortably. There were many mornings when he would tell us DO NOT put that on me! Once we found one that was comfortable he started to look at us differently.

The fact he had been there and done that meant he was a confident well adjusted horse and a real asset to the team, meaning he will take a first time rider out into the hills and bring them home safely. Always the first to find the open gate to the fresh paddock of grass each day.

There’s no fly’s on T. He’s got this trekking gig down pat. We think he’s an absolute STAR!


Shamrock was bred by Elle Shannon in Fielding and we bought him from her as a rising 2 year old. He did the rest of his growing up on the hills around the Stables.

He is a very sweet, sensitive and obliging horse, and an awesome horse to have in our team. Still the baby of the trekking herd he will mostly be ridden by the guides this spring. What a gem he is going to be for our more experienced riders on our multi-day rides this summer.

He’s a big solid horse, and an absolute pleasure to ride with his beautiful smooth cruise like paces. Also one of the few horses that I’ve seen who is a totally different colour in winter than summer. In summer he’s a very pale coloured strawberry roan and in winter he’s a bright chestnut. A very handsome sweetheart.


If ever there was a treasure of a horse it has to be Rico. Born and bred next door as a show jumper, we could not believe it when the neighbours asked if we would like to have him in our trekking team? We watched his transition from out of the paddock to under saddle when Clint, then owner worked with him, and it was clear to see he had a gentle nature. He has been the jewel of our trekking team, taking by far the most people out trekking. The things we have asked of Rico have been beyond the call of duty and he has always graciously delivered. He is the longest serving horse in the trekking team and has seen plenty of other horses come and go during his time here. Presently turned out for an extended holiday, because he so deserves it, he will be back to work later in the season no doubt giving his all. One horse that would be a forever horse for us, he has taught us so much and will continue to teach others.


How exciting it was when our first foal arrived! He validates his entitlement of first born coming up through the ranks of the herd at the Stables. He is very smart. He is honest. He is dependable. He is the ultimate comfort seeker and will always find the easiest way with any task, but in saying that he will rise to the occasion if it’s asked of him. What you see is what he is. He shows his feelings through his face and ears with unabashed shamelessness. Sometimes this can be disconcerting, but it is also hilarious, he is not the type to be laughed at though, he would prefer you laughed with him. Ha ha ha! It is commendable that he feels comfortable to express himself. After all he is just behaving like a horse! He’s a valued member of the team being trustworthy to ride and looking after you our guests while out on a trek. Even if you are a first time rider with a little bit of tenacity you can win him over. He just loves a good debate, so if you do too, he’s the horse for you!


Born at River Valley Stables on the 1.1.11. Destined to become Alfred the Great! He’s also such a sweet horse with innate traits of wanting to please and connect. When he was born it took 24 hrs for him to latch on to his mothers udder, so he was fed from a bowl four hourly from milk we managed to get from his obliging Mum. There was concern that he might not be the sharpest tool in the shed! This doesn’t appear to be the case, he is very clever at getting his lead rope undone when tied up and finding the best grass nearby! He has always had a desire to pair up with another horse or human. This is what makes him so special. If you are fortunate to spend time on our trips then be prepared to fall in love with Alfie, who you’d be head over heels with joy if you happen to have him on our 8 Day River Valley Ride!


Elvis was born at River Valley Stables. We wanted him to grow up big and solid for our trekking team, however he just kept on growing and growing! He is huge and eats as much as 2 horses. This is a problem. He also has a long reach over the fence and can eat things on the other side that he isn’t supposed to. He wrecks stuff unknowingly due to his size. It was thought he might have to go. We couldn’t do it. He is such a character and he has his place here. He is a real extrovert, very friendly and visibly expresses his delight at feeding time by acknowledging you with a soft heartfelt blow of affection through his nostrils and a brush of his muzzle on your arm. He has given many people so much pleasure out on our rides. He’s great for an intermediate to advanced rider, but has also shown his genuine side by taking out a few novice riders and looking after them. Elvis wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s a keeper.


Butter wouldn’t melt in this buttercup coloured horses mouth!  Rio has been with River Valley Stables for nine years as one of our trekking horses.



The Ladies

Miss T

MISS T: (“Misty” to avoid confusion with Mr T) I have mellowed and it gives me great pleasure to share her with a few of our guests who can ride nicely and enjoy her. I am quite proud of her. She arrived here on a big truck as a non handled 2 year old the day before my birthday in 2014. Why did I get a mare you might ask after going down the line of all geldings in the team? Well we still had mares back then. I went to look at her and she was standing dwarfed in a big cattle yard all by herself. She looked scrawny, had a huge unattractive brand on her shoulder and was standing in the corner with her toes turned in. She looked the true picture of a derelict orphan. Definitely not the horse of my dreams! I climbed into the yard appearing interested in her then turned around intending to tell the owner that I wasn’t going to buy her, when this little nose nuzzled into my jacket and my heart just melted. Within a heart beat the words spilled out of my mouth, “I’ll take her”, I said. I have not regretted that decision one bit. She has been a real pleasure to be with and train. I have loved her girly ways after all the boys. She was awesome last summer coming into her first year of riding as my intrepid trail blazer exploring our route for the 8 day River Valley Ride.

Fancy Pants

The Kaimanawa Horses

At River Valley Stables we are fortunate enough to have several Kaimanawa (wild) New Zealand horses.

What is a Kaimanawa Horse?

The Kaimanawa wild (feral) horses are found grazing in small family bands within the boundary of the New Zealand Defence Force Army Training Area at Waiouru on the central North Island of New Zealand.  Wild horses were first reported in this area in 1876, some 62 years after the first horses were brought into New Zealand by the Reverend Samuel Marsden in 1814.

While Kaimanawa Horses now have a certain “look” to them, they are in fact the product of numerous liberations on top of the original base feral population.  Included in these liberations have been the descendents of Welsh and Exmoor ponies, sheep station hacks, at least one Arab stallion, a Clydesdale Stallion, mounts for cavalry units and who knows what else.

The herd is now recognised as deserving a heritage classification, both because of its uniqueness and its historical story.

Read more about the Kaimanawa horses here.


Awa came from the last muster to River Valley Stables. It was my responsibility to get him to the point where he could be safely gelded. As a ten-year-old stallion he had a huge amount of worry towards humans and a strong sense of self-preservation. The gelding process destroyed a lot of the trust I had gained with him.
Thomas, who came to work as a guide at River Valley Stables this season, showed an interest in Awa. He had a background of starting horses under saddle and he was keen to take Awa on as a project over the summer. As the season winds down, Thomas is finishing his time here. Before he leaves, I asked him to share his experience so others could gain an idea of what to expect when taking on the task of training a mature wild stallion. To read the interview, and for some photos of Thomas and Awa’s journey together, click through to this blog post –


Brave is another of our Kaimanawa horses. He came from the 2016 muster as a 6 year old stallion. His world was tipped upside down when he came out of the ranges and it hasn’t been easy for him leaving that life behind and moving into ours. For this reason he holds a very special place in my heart as he has been incredibly brave, but also very frightened at times coming to terms with it all. He is independent watchful and patient. He doesn’t tolerate fools in the paddock and has shown a few of the horse team how to behave in a herd. When you have his trust you have it 100% and that feels like a rare gift of momentous significance when given. Brave can often be seen on the highest piece of ground in the paddock looking out over the hills. He has shown his adaptability to domestic life being a handy guide horse. This summer he will be getting his brave on to line up with the team and take some lucky people riding.



roam the kaimanawa horse


ROAM was mustered on ANZAC day of this year and came into domestic life the next day. He is the first Kaimanawa we have taken that isn’t a mature stallion. There is so much innocence, sweetness and calm intelligence coupled with an adept independence with this extra special baby wild horse. When he came off the truck the evening he came out of the wild, it was just on dark, but it was still light enough to see he was a beauty. Literally took my breath away when I saw him. It will be a few years before he’s old enough to be a part of the working team, but in the meanwhile he’s been lightly handled and gelded and roaming free with his kind, and hopefully on hand this summer for you to meet him!


Contact one of our friendly adventure consultants who would love to answer any questions you might have.

0800 248666 / +64 6 388 1444