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Steps to South Africa - origins of the SA Boerperd

Safari day minus 5. We are off for the experience of a lifetime on a riding Safari in South Africa. Hit the button to find out more about our destination. The picture above is of some young stallions, but at Ants Nest the 90 strong herd of ridden horses also live out amongst the wild animals and are perfectly at home in the bush, I hope! Among these are the breed native to South Africa and rarely seen in Europe due to import restrictions.

Learn more about the origins of the breed here: which can be broken down into two distinct periods.

The first phase took place between the years 1652 and 1836.

The first horses to be brought into the newly founded colony in the Cape were crossbred Barb-Arabian horses that were brought in from Java. They formed the basis of what eventually developed into a recognized breed, known at the time as the Cape Horse. Thoroughbred stallions were also introduced which could have had an influence on size and posture.

This horse was recognized for its calm demeanour, courage, intelligence, endurance, remarkable sure-footedness, and hardiness. They thrived in SA where there are dry summers up to 50 degrees and cold winters below 0 degrees.

Both in 1719 and again in 1763, the deadly African Horse Sickness claimed the lives of thousands of horses which eliminated animals susceptible to this disease and stopped their genes from being passed down to future generations.

The second phase lasted from 1836 to 1899, beginning with the Great Trek and ending with the beginning of the second Anglo-Boer War.

The phenotype and genotype were fixed during this period as other breeds, such as the Flemish Stallions from the Netherlands, as well as Hackeys, Norfolk Trotters and Cleveland Bays, were imported and bred into what eventually became known as the Boerperd.

However, the breed paid a steep price for its role as a brave and tough war horse. Thousands of horses died and those who were not killed in battle were later shot by the British with only the most resilient horses and those who had been purposefully hidden away by their owners surviving.

Following the conclusion of the war, a concerted effort to preserve the Boerperd began. In 1948, the first breeders’ association known was established. In 1980, the breed was officially recognized by the Department of Agriculture. As of 2002, no new bloodlines have been added to the breeding program. A very strict selection procedure was implemented to choose breeding animals. The vast gene pool is strong enough to prevent inbreeding and assure successful reproduction and the continuation of this amazing breed.

Next blog: The Boerperd a 5 gaited horse


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