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
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.