At Cairnbrogie, a farm just next to the Griqua Settlement of Kranshoek, 15 minutes away from Plett, you will find a unique herd of horses.
They are not just any horses – they are a special breed. The people who are looking after them call them the “Heritage Horses”. Or, more to the point, the Griqua Horse Herd.
“About a hundred years ago, when the Griqua people came to Plett and settled here, they came with their horses,” says Lee Naude-Plociennik, kick-starting our conversation about the work she is doing here at Cairnbrogie looking after the horses.
One cannot talk about the Griqua Horses Herd without first talking about the Griqua people themselves. To understand the story of the horses, we must first understand the story of this nation, which writers like Angus Begg described as “South Africa’s rainbow people”.
The story of the Griqua is not widely known and documented. It’s a beautiful story, but like all stories about first nations, it’s also a painful one. As history teaches us – nations rise and fall.
The Griqua people trace their ancestry to two clans, the Koks and the Berendse – the first is made up of Khoikhoi and the second of mixed European descent dating back to the 1800s. Like the ‘Trek Boers’ of the time, they also moved from area to area trying to find a perfect settlement for themselves.
Their cattle and horses would undergo such long journeys with them, and it would seem they too, would suffer the same nomadic fate.
Over the years, most of these horses were neglected and some were abused. To motorists driving on the Airport Road between the N2 at Harkerville passing this area towards the Robberg, the horses have been somewhat of a nuisance, wandering about, wild and free, causing havoc.
Lee, who stays in Kranshoek, started to approach some of the horse owners, convincing them that due to lack of resources and proper facilities in the village, they will be better off lending their horses to the Africa Hoofprint Foundation for better care. Of course, not all horse owners agreed, so some horses are still inside Kranshoek.
Lee stresses the point that if it was not for Andrew Hill of Cairnbrogie Farm, they would not have been able to take care of the 10 Heritage Horses currently taking up residency at the farm where, for the time being, all expenses are paid for by the farm owner, Andrew and his family.
“Our natural heritage is mapped in our environment and natural resources, and part of that includes the special animals and plants that have evolved over time. These in conjunction with our cultural heritage are a direct reflection of our beautiful country, and they should be looked after and protected,” comments Patty Butterworth (CEO, Plett Tourism).
The Africa Hoofprint Foundation is a fully registered NPC that relies on donations to keep doing its good work. Last December they started to offer trail rides on the scenic Cairnbrogie Farm, which I can attest to having some of the most breathtaking views on the Robberg Coastal Corridor. All proceeds from the trail rides go towards taking care of the horses,” says Wandisile Sebezo (Public Relations Officer for Plett Tourism).
We shared a ride with three youngsters from Kranshoek who are part of the Kranshoek Community Youth Project, an initiative started by the foundation to assist and train the youth how to take care of the horses properly.
These young people are also trained to ride the horses in preparation for competitions like the elite show jumping circuit in places like Kyalami and elsewhere. They are:
- Nicole Jacobs, 18 years old, riding for ten years, four years with the foundation, also part of the Kranshoek Equestrian Team; her horse is Lilly.
- Deohlan Oliphant, 17 years old, three years with the foundation, Kranshoek Equestrian Team; Horse – Clover.
- And Logan Ruiters, 15 years old, 2 years with the foundation, Kranshoek Equestrian Team; Horse – Emrin.
“Perhaps to realise the prophecy that led the Griqua people to these shores, we must first start by preserving the rich heritage they have left us,” says Sebezo.
Photographs courtesy of Cairnbrogie Farm