his majesty king letsie iii
his majesty king letsie iii

His Majesty King Letsie III

(Photo : Lesotho-Geneva-AMDJ)

In the annals of mankind, you wouldn’t associate Africa especially with horses, particularly when you start counting in centuries. However, one African nation with as proud a tradition in horses as any on earth is that of Lesotho, who’ve bred the Basotho pony, the stuff of legends.

Forged by the local people from a combination of horses ferreted from the British and Boer forces during the almost century-long feuds that characterized their society through the 1800’s, this is as dexterous a descendant of the equine genus as you’d know, with the capacity to negotiate the narrow paths and tight turns of the Mountain Kingdom better than any known to man.

It’s little surprise then, that His Majesty King Letsie III should nurture an abiding fascination for horses in general, and beyond the Basotho pony, in the Thoroughbred especially. He and his good Queen, Her Majesty Masenate Mohato Seeiso are due at Hartford House and Summerhill this week, in the lead-up to this weekend’s Canon Gold Cup. They are among the dearest friends of this farm and our accommodation establishment, and they bring a spring to the steps of those who live and work here. His Majesty has several mares in residence, while Wednesday witnesses the return to the races of Uzime at Scottsville for trainer Dennis Drier, wearing the Royal silks. By our reckoning, one should be all over them.

Descended from a long line of dedicated horsemen dating back to the legendary King Moshoeshoe I (yes, the King who conquered the Boers at the great Battle of the Free State-Basotho, and then served as refuge to the many clans fleeing the wrath of the Zulu king, Shaka, there’s an unbroken lineage of reverence for the horse in King Letsie’s family, astonishing in a world in which very few Thoroughbred stud farms have survived more than three generations.