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Freyberg Gallery

Freyberg Gallery

Harnessed: New Zealand’s War Horses

NAM Collection 1992.2622
Throughout history, the horse has been used in battle. Whether it is to carry men into the fray or transport much needed stores and equipment to the front line, the trusted horse has been an integral part when man wages war.

Harnessed: New Zealand’s War Horses, focuses on our own war horses and how they took troops into battle in the Anglo-Boer War and World War I, how they were looked after and loved by the men, and at the war’s end, sadly, how they were left behind.

In fact, over 20,000 horses left New Zealand for the two wars, with only five returning home. In World War One, a staggering 8 million horses were killed (from all countries) and for many of us, the story of the horse in war is often overlooked.

The exhibition does not focus on specific battles but depicts how the horse coped in battle – what conditions they endured (heat and flies on the veldt or in the desert, through to snow and mud on the Western Front); what equipment they had to carry; what were they fed, how they were cared for (against sickness); and what happened to them at the end.