The Nooitgedacht-Iberian

Nooitgedacht

Nooitgedacht stallion owned by Floors and Lizelle Smit from Destalsmit Stud

In the previous issue of HQ (122), the history of the Nooitgedacht was presented as him being the only recognised breed that has been developed out of the Basuto Pony, so highly prized for his hardiness and tractability, as demonstrated during the Anglo-Boer War at the turn of the 19th century. The Basuto Pony in his own right has his roots firmly set in the Cape Horse who was part and parcel of the history of the Cape of Good Hope. In this article, we want to tell you more about a thrilling breeding project that was recently launched by the Nooitgedacht Horse Breeders Society (NHBS), involving the infusion of Nooitgedacht x Iberian progeny into the Nooitgedacht gene pool.

Background

It’s common knowledge in the equestrian fraternity that the Nooitie has maintained the legacy of hardiness and the even-keeled disposition of his Basuto Pony and Cape Horse ancestry. The Nooitie has already established himself as a remarkably human-friendly, bold, stocky-built, hardy all-rounder, ridden in endurance competitions, jumping and working horse classes. The breed has been developed in South Africa, starting in 1952 with a small stud of Basuto Pony-type animals who were selected and maintained by the South African Department of Agriculture at the Nooitgedacht Research Station in the Ermelo district. In 1984, it became the first indigenous South African horse breed to be recognised as such by the South African Studbook Association, and presently have a breed history stretching over 65 years.

New blood

Nooitgedacht

Herd of Nooitgedacht horses at Brevilo Stud

Despite the good traits of the breed, the limited gene pool that it has been developed out of poses a tremendous challenge in terms of the unavoidable increase in inbreeding that goes with small populations. Recently, the NHBS arranged a brainstorming session to discuss ways and means of approaching this problem. One of the possible solutions is that of introducing unrelated animals into the Nooitgedacht gene pool. Since there are no Nooitgedachts elsewhere in the world, this route unavoidably implies bringing non-Nooitgedachts into the Nooitgedacht herd book. The questions then are:

  • Does the Nooitgedacht breed registry allow for such infusions from other breeds?
  • Are there other horse breeds that have a resemblance to the Nooitgedacht, such that their introduction will not destroy the typical characteristics of the latter?

Contrary to the breed registers of, for instance, Thoroughbreds and Arabians, the Nooitgedacht register is open, meaning that it allows for outside horses to be brought in, provided that such horses can contribute positively to the breed.

The interesting answer to the second question, as to whether other breeds have some resemblance to the Nooitie, is that the Iberian breeds, notably the PRE (Andalusian) and Lusitano, have some traits that are remarkably similar to that of the Nooitie. One can even surmise that the Nooitie has inherited his stocky, deep-set, square body, thick, arched neck, short back and slightly sloping croup from his Iberian forebears. Even the grey coat colour, frequently found in Nooities, might point to some relationship to the Iberian horses who found their way to South Africa during the 17th and 18th centuries.

By: Stroebel Hofmeyr, Maret Scholtz

The full article appears in the Winter Guide issue of HQ (June 123) > Shop now