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20 February 2019   
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Nooitgedachter - Basuto

Descended from the original Cape Horse the Nooitgedachter is possibly one of the rarest horse breeds. The Basuto pony developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century is an ancestor of the Cape Horse in Lesotho, and was raised on the rugged highlands of Basutoland. Here the climatic conditions are extreme, food is scarce and the ponies were forced to fend for themselves during freezing winters and scorching summers.

The survival of the fittest resulted in an exceptionally hardy pony evolving, able to withstand severe weather and treacherous terrain, it was both sure-footed and brave. The Basuto ponies developed a natural affection and affinity for people. In addition, they inherited spiritedness, intelligence and stamina from their imported ancestors - the Arab, the Barb and the Javanese Pony and after 1811 from the introduction of the English thoroughbred blood from the very best lines.

During the Anglo Boer War (1899 - 1902), there specific and numerous qualities were put to use by the military and the fame of the Basuto pony spread, subsequently thousands of Basuto ponies were used as mounts in wars all over the world. Unfortunately due to mass export, drought and neglect, the Basuto Pony was on the verge of extinction in Lesotho by the 1940s.

In 1951 a rigorous breeding programme was initiated by the South African Department of Agricultural to revive the breed. They purchased a carefully chosen number of horses and selectively started to breed the Basuto pony at the Nooitgedachter Research Station near Ermelo. They kept only the best progeny, one in every four foals, in order to produce the original Basutos exceptional qualities.

Eight separate studs were established in 1967 as part of the breeding programme and the Nooitgedacht Breeders' Association was founded. They have set breed standards and guidelines have been laid down for breeders and show judges. The breed, now known as the Nooitgedachter, became recognized in 1976 by the South African Stud Book Association as South Africa's first indigenous breed of horse. Later in 1977, the Department of Agriculture sold its stud by public auction, entrusting the further development of the Nooitgedachter to the breeders' association. Today there are more than a hundred breeders continuously striving to improve the Nooitgedachter.

Today's Nooitgedachter is a sturdy, compact little horse standing between 13.3 and 15 h.h. and is able to carry 13-14 stone for 60-80 miles a day. The conformation is good; it has an attractive fine head with a tapered muzzle large wide set intelligent eyes and shapely alert ears; the neck is well shaped; the shoulder is good and sloping; the back is short and exceptionally strong; the body is short and strong with a deep chest and girth; the hindquarters are well muscled and round; the limbs are well proportioned with good joints, strong bone and exceptionally hard hooves that seldom need to be shod. It is extremely surefooted with plenty of stamina and a comfortable gait. It is predominantly bay, brown, blue roan, chestnut roan or brown roan with a pigmented hide. Piebald and skewbald are not permitted.

The Nooitgedachter includes both horses and ponies and because it is kind natured, adaptable and easy to train, makes an excellent senior, junior or children's pony. Capable of winning at provincial, national and international level at show jumping, as a show horse/pony, a gymkhana and polo pony, and in endurance riding. It is a popular choice in nature reserves for game counting, patrolling inhospitable areas and game viewing. It is a good all round horse/pony with great adaptability and strength.

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