The Basotho Horse

Volker Ledermann, the founder of the Etusis Game Reserve, is a globally traveled horse man. In many corners of the world he was busy breeding horses and riding them. He has ridden in various countries and regions of Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Australia, and of course Africa, and has tried out the local breeds with great interest. He rode for the German Military Team in the 1950s and, as one of the pioneers, brought Icelandic horses to the European continent. Ultimately, it was also the fascination for the special gait tolt that made him aware of the Basotho horses in the small kingdom of Lesotho in South Africa.

In the high mountains of this small state these extremely weather-resistant and enduring riding horses are located. With a height of about 140 – 150 cm, they are very cooperative, comfortable to sit, and are thus suitable for riding long distances, even in mountainous terrain. With breeding maturity from about 3 ½ years, they are trained at the Etusis Lodge, where some mares and geldings for the horseriding activities remain.

The history of Etusis horse breeding

During a visit to Lesotho, Volker Ledermann realized that the Basotho horse was in great danger – not because it was about to be extincted, but because more and more other breeds of horses were being crossed.
He discussed with the responsible people of the country a ban on imports of other races, but found no majority. On the contrary, it was a stated goal to “support” the breed by using other breeds. For example from Ireland, stallions were brought to Lesotho to “improve” the breed. Volker Ledermann’s warning that this crossbreeding would ultimately destroy the highly interesting race with its lateral gaits, remained unheard.


But this was no reason for Volker Ledermann to give up. He succeeded in getting various experts on board, including Prof. Dr. med. Ewald Isenbügel of the University of Zurich and Prof. Dr. Henk Bertschinger of the University of Onderstepoort, South Africa. Together, a plan was developed.
Finally, Volker Ledermann and Prof. Dr. Isenbüge traveled to Lesotho and and scouted the most thoroughbred Basotho horses. Purebredness was ensured by means of blood samples which were send to South Africa.
But it took some years until enough guaranteed thoroughbred breeding horses were bought and brought to a farm of friends on a strenuous but exciting ride to South Africa.

After the horses had recovered there from the often very bad attitude in their homeland and the long trek, they were transported by truck to Etusis. The joy and relief were indescribable, as the horses finally arrived there after a long and adventurous journey!

Yes, and since then there are not just Basotho horses on Etusis available to our guests for rides. The breeding itself was moved due to the better water situation to the sister farm Dornhügel in the northeast of the country. Also some riding companies of the country own horses from our breed and also exports to the neighboring Angola have already been carried out.

We would be glad if our Basothos could carry you through the plains and mountains of Etusis. Here you can contact us for horseback riding requests.