The Basuto Pony is found in Lesotho, which is an enclave of South Africa. It is used exclusively for riding.
Origin: Lesotho, South Africa.
Colors: Chestnut, Brown, Bay, Gray.
Height: up to 14.2hh.
Conformation: Neat head, long neck, straight shoulders, long back, short legs, hard feet
Character: Surefooted, fast and fearless.
Uses: Riding, saddle, hacking, trekking or sometimes polo.
The first horses arrived in South Africa in 1653, when four horses were introduced to the Cape area by the Dutch East India Trading Company. The exact breed of these horses is unknown, but they may have been Arabian, Persian or similar to the Java Pony. They were upgraded later with Arabian and Persian blood.
These original imported horses became the founders of the Cape Horse, which became extremely popular and especially gained an admirable reputation during the Boer Wars.
The Cape Horse and the Basuto probably were originally the same horse; with continual infusions of Thoroughbred and Arabian blood the Cape Horse became a larger, better-quality animal, and the Basuto remained smaller and stockier.
Lesotho (formerly known as Basutoland) acquired Cape Horses as spoils of war between the Zulus and the settlers.
As a result of harsh conditions and interbreeding with local ponies, the Cape Horse lost much of its height and nobility, and the Basuto pony largely replaced it.
Due to the rocky and hilly terrain the Basuto ponies were continually ridden over (often at great speeds), they developed into tough, surefooted animals with great stamina and courage. These qualities, however, were nearly the undoing of the breed.
The Basuto became so popular that thousands were exported, and many of the best horses were killed in action during the Boer War at the end of the 19th century. There is now a concerted effort to re-establish the Basuto breed.