The Boerperd breed began to be developed in 1652, a short time after the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck to the Cape. The history of the growth and development of the Boerperd horse is connected inseparably and parallel to the history of the white settlers in Southern Africa. This history can be subdivided into three periods: 1652 to 1836 or Jan van Riebeeck's arrival to the Great Trek; 1836 to 1899 or the Great Trek to the start of the Boer War; and 1899, the Boer war, to the present time period.
1652 to 1836-Jan van Riebeeck to the Great Trek
During the reign of Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape, the first horses were imported to the area from Java. In 1665, the first horses were sold to the Free Burghers by the Dutch East Indian Company.
Persian Arab horses were imported due to a problem with inbreeding. For a period of approximately 150 years, the horses in the Cape were bred with the Eastern blood of the Persian Arab horse. This developed a distinct type of horse and the Cape horse breed was developed.
Between the years of 1750 and 1800, these horses became renowned for their intelligence and ability for endurance. They became largely sought after for use by the military. The breeding process was further stimulated and improved by Lord Charles Somerset. He introduced the bloodlines of Thoroughbred stallions through importation. At this point, there were approximately 200,000 of these horses in the Cape. The horses became known worldwide.
1836 to 1899-The Great Trek to the Boer War
The Cape horse remained relatively unchanged during the first years of the Great Trek. It was during the second half of the century that different horse breeds began to arrive at the Cape through importation. It is believed that these horses began to influence the Cape horse. Some of the horse breeds which were imported include the Cleveland Bays, Norfolk Trotters, Hackneys and from the Netherlands, the Flemish stallion.
It was during this period of time that under the direction of Moshesh, the Basotho raided the Boer and the nation became mounted. The main sea routes to India were changed due to the opening of the Suez Canal. Due to these changes, there were no more horses that were exported to India. This resulted in a decline in the breeding of the horses. Then an epidemic of horse sickness occurred in 1870 and many of the horses were wiped out.
1899 to Present-The Boer War to Today
It was during the Boer war that the hardiness, stamina and mobility of the Cape horse were proven. The conditions of the war were extremely difficult and many of the horses died as casualties of the war. Due to the preservation of some pure herds, the Boerperd is with us today. Through the dedicated efforts of The Cape Boerperd Breeders Society, the horse has been preserved for the people of today. The Boerperd horse has grown in popularity once again throughout the world for the outstanding qualities that is possesses.