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NZ's First World War horses

Page 1 – Introduction

Between 1914 and 1916 the New Zealand government acquired more than 10,000 horses to equip the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. It had no great difficulty securing this many horses of suitable quality.

Nearly all the horses went overseas, and only around 3% of them died en route.

They served where most New Zealanders served: in German Samoa, at Gallipoli, in the Middle East and on the Western Front.

More than half of the horses were ridden by mounted troops and officers. Nearly 4000 were draught, heavy draught or packhorses used for artillery and transport purposes.

Many horses died from disease or injury once overseas. Of those that survived the war, only four returned home. An acute shortage of transport, and quarantine restrictions related to animal diseases prevalent overseas, prevented most from returning. Instead they were killed, sold or kept for use by the British army.

How to cite this page

New Zealand's First World War horses, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated