Breeds from Around the World: Part One – Boerperd

Posted on October 21, 2020

In this series of blogs, we will take a look at horse breeds from around the world. First of all, we go to South Africa, to learn about the Boerperd.


The South African Boerperd

The Boerperd is a true South African horse breed; its history and development closely linked with that of its homeland. The breed can be traced back to the horses brought to the Cape of Good Hope by Dutch settlers in the middle of the 17th Century.

Image Credit: SA Boerperd Society


The history of the Boerperd is divided into two phases. A first phase took place between around 1652 and 1836, when the first horses arrived at the Cape – Barb-Arabian crosses imported from Java. Bred with Andalucian and Persian Arab horses, these animals formed the basis of a recognised breed known at the time as the Cape Horse.

A beautiful Boerperd stallion at Moolmanshoek, South Africa

The second phase from 1836 to 1899, saw the Cape Horse bred with imported Flemish stallions from Holland, as well as Hackneys, Norfolk Trotters and Cleveland Bays. The breed became known as the Boerperd. It thrived in South Africa’s untamed landscapes and was able to cope with the dry summers (up 50°C) and cold winters (sub-zero°C).

Boerperds Horizon

Boerperds Lightning & Goose on an out-ride at Horizon in South Africa (Credit: Tanya Baber)

Breed Basics

Boerperd breed standards require a minimum height of 13.3hh for mares and 14.2hh for stallions. There is no maximum height and horses of 16hh or more are not uncommon. The breed can come in many colours, but their skin must be black and pigmented. White marks extending across the eyes down to the cheek, and from the hoof to above the knees (stockings) are not officially accepted.

Phantom from Horizon – new to polocrosse, but taking it in his stride (Credit: Tanya Baber)

Boerperds generally have a broad, flat forehead between prominent eyes. They tend to have a sturdy, well musculed physique, with strong legs and hard hooves. Well known for their versatility, intelligence, hardiness and willingness to work – they are calm and reliable, yet very responsive.

Boerperds – perfect all-rounders and brave safari horses – picture from the Tuli Safari in Botswana

Preserving the Breed

During the second Anglo-Boer War, Boerperds acquitted themselves admirably. As a result, they gained a reputation for immense endurance and stamina. When the war ended in 1902, a formal association was set up to preserve the breed. The Boerperd Society of South Africa was later founded in 1973, although the breed was not recognised internationally until 1996.

A very handsome Boerperd called ‘Mpumalanga’ at Kujwana Camp in Botswana

Today, Boerperds take part in a whole range of equestrian disciplines, from showing and dressage, to eventing. But their character and workmanlike attitude also make them ideal trail riding companions and brave safari steeds.

Horizon’s registered Boerperd Spice helps guests improve their show jumping (Credit: Tanya Baber)

Where Can I Ride a Boerperd?

Boerperds feature on many of In The Saddle’s African riding trips. Here are some holiday ideas…

In South Africa you can ride purebred Boerperds from Moolmanshoek’s very own stud. If riding and wine tasting sounds like a heavenly combination, then riding a Boerperd in the Cape Winelands could be your top choice. At Horizon Lodge there are over 80 horses to choose from, so you’re sure to come across some brilliant Boerperds. If you crave beaches and Boerperds, you could head to the Wild Coast for out-of-this-world riding along deserted sands. In the stables at Ants Lodges are horses for every type of rider, so a Boerperd might well be your holiday horse. Finally, Wait A Little is famed for its beautifully schooled horses, amongst the herd are many fabulous Boerperds.

In Botswana you could gallop a Boerperd across the incredible Makgadikgadi salt pans. Or ride amongst zebra and wildebeest aboard a brave Boerperd on the Tuli Safari, at Kujwana Camp or Macatoo Camp.

From the Namib Desert to Damaraland, on any one of the challenging trail rides in Namibia, you might find yourself aboard a mighty Boerperd.

Head off-grid in Lesotho on tough, sure-footed Boerperd (and Basotho) horses. They are ideal expedition companions – always up for a canter, but in their element over tricky terrain.

To book your holiday and the chance to ride a South African Boerperd, call one of the In The Saddle team on +44 (0) 1299 272 997 or email

Boerperd ‘General’ takes the opportunity for a snack during the Tuli Safari

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *