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Conservation status
Other names
  • Nooitgedachtperd
  • Nooitgedacht Pony
  • Nooitgedacht Horse
Country of originSouth Africa
StandardNooitgedachter Perdetelers Genootskap
  • Male:
    440 kg[3]: 60 
  • Female:
    340 kg[3]: 60 
  • 138–163 cm
Colourany solid colour

The Nooitgedachter is a South African breed of riding horse.[3]: 59  It is the result of a selective breeding programme established in 1952 to preserve the Basutho Pony of Lesotho. It was later decided to give it a different name; it was at first called the Nooitgedacht Pony, named for the Proefplaas Nooitgedacht, the research station near Ermelo in Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga) where it was bred; it was later called the Nooitgedacht Horse until the present name was chosen.[4][5]: 490  It is a rare breed, with only about 400 purebreds in existence.[citation needed]


The Nooitgedachter was created in the mid-twentieth century by the Department of Agriculture of the Union of South Africa, which established a programme of selective breeding at the Proefplaas Nooitgedacht, a research station near Ermelo in Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga). The project was initially called the Basutho Pony Project, and had two aims: to preserve the Basutho Pony of Lesotho, which had been in decline since the time of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902; and to create a breed of hardy riding horse for South Africa.[3]: 59  The name was later changed, first to Nooitgedacht Pony, then to Nooitgedacht Horse, and finally to Nooitgedachter.[3]: 60 [4] Although the Afrikaans word nooitgedacht means roughly "never imagined", this is not the origin of the name of the breed, which derives from that of the research station.[4][5]: 490 


The Nooitgedachter was bred to be a sturdy and compact riding horse capable of carrying a heavy adult rider over difficult terrain for extended periods, with good stamina, a good temperament, and hooves so strong that it does not normally need to be shod.[3]: 60  Height at the withers ranges from 138 to 163 cm (13.2 to 16.0 hands).[6]

In the early years of the breeding programme grey – in all its shades – was the preferred coat colour.[3]: 60  Under the 2015 breed standard, the horses may be of any solid colour; patterned coats – such as spotted, skewbald or piebald – are disallowed, as are blue eyes and de-pigmented skin.[6]

The horses commonly have five gaits. In addition to the usual walk, trot and canter they may also have an ambling gait, known as strykstap, and a rack, which in South Africa is called "triple".[6]


The Nooitgedachter is a strong and hardy riding horse, well adapted to the environmental conditions of South Africa, and suitable for use as a working horse in the management of farm livestock.[3]: 59 


  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ Breed data sheet: Nooitgedacht Pony / South Africa (Horse). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h F. J. Van der Merwe, J. Martin (2002). Four southern african horse breeds. Animal Genetic Resources/Resources génétiques animales/Recursos genéticos animales. 32 (2002): 57–72.
  4. ^ a b c Ken jou Nooitie (in Afrikaans). Nooitgedachter Perdetelers Genootskap. Accessed March 2021.
  5. ^ a b Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  6. ^ a b c Nooitgedachter Standard Of Excellence: Appendix B Of The Constitution (8 Aug 2015). Nooitgedachter Perdetelers Genootskap. Archived 5 March 2016.