The Heavy Draft Horse Foundation is about preserving and saving the heavy draft horses, who are at the edge of extinction; facing climate change and power to the people moving forward into the future. Our four watch words are – conservation, confidence, courage and compassion – the four C’s and if they dictate all our actions and all our thoughts we cannot fail.
Our project started with a visit to Elsenburg Agricultural College in 2002 where we fell in love with the Heavy Draft Percheron horses. We bought our first mare from Elsenburg and our first working gelding from Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape. These two horses inspired us with their gentle natures and great beauty and strength. They were the beginning of a long struggle to save the Heavy Draft Horses in South Africa.
All of the heavy draft breeds are rare, and endangered. The Percherons are the most numerous of the heavy draft breeds and they are rarer than rhinos, some of the breeds – the Shires, Clydsdales, Brabant and the Suffolk Punch are rarer than pandas. We didn’t breed these horses to be big, they emerged out of the ice-age 250 000 years ago and grew huge on the lush European pastures, the closest to the original forest horse today is the Brabant and he is rarer than a panda. We still call them cold bloods today because of where they come from. For centuries they pulled our ploughs and moved our loads, everything a truck or tractor does today these gentle giants did willingly for us. Without them we would not have had an industrial revolution, and yet after the tractor and trucks came out and we no longer needed them, we have repaid them for their labour, with the abattoir and massacred them wholesale; a slaughter on a larger scale than the American Bison or the African Elephant.
Pictured above – Peter & Christine Watt. The owners of Outeniqua Moon Percheron Stud Farm, which they have funded for the last seventeen years. They have now formed the Heavy Draft Horse Foundation, in order to give the project longevity beyond their life time and to facilitate the protection of the Heavy draft horses on a global scale. Peter & Christene can no longer fund this project solely, thus we gratefully accept all sponsors or volunteers.
Today we are facing climate change, largely because of the internal combustion engine and burning fossil fuel. This is the greatest existential threat to our existence and to the existence of all life on this planet Earth, our only home in space. We (Peter and I) have chosen to face this together with the seven wonderful people who have helped us to build this conservation project at Outeniqua Moon. We see the horses as a way back to ourselves and nature. The horses are a way to green farming and holistic living with a smaller carbon footprint. It is essential to save the heavy draft horses because they are our last link to a world that depended on horse power and not machines to feed people. Their survival is more important to our collective consciousness than we realise. When we lose them we are in danger of losing our humanity and becoming machines like the ones we use.
With all our courses we are guided and teach the four C’s (conservation, confidence, courage and compassion.)
The heavy draft horses definitely have a place in our world today. It is our purpose to create a massive resurgence of interest in all the heavy draft horse breeds around the world and get heritage status for the horses in order to save them from extinction; not just because of a nostalgia trip, but because practically they are wonderful animals which can show the way to green farming and through their healing energy, a way back to being human and our lost connection with nature, which is imperative to our continued existence on this Earth.
We have bred some of the best heavy draft Percheron horses in South Africa, including the biggest stallion ever bred in South Africa. We sell only to forever homes and only breed when we are sure of good homes because our intention is to get the numbers up in the world so they don’t become extinct. This is a project which we hope will continue long after we are dead and it is our hope that the Ruiterbos community will keep it going.
The project will provide jobs, training courses, craft development and sustainable farming practises for the local communities of Ruiterbos, Brandwag and Sonskyn Vallei. We also aim to do informal therapy with horses for the local communities of Ruiterbos, Brandwag, Sonskyn Vallei and the Mosselbay district.
You will always be treated with equality, dignity, fairness and compassion.
You will always be paid well for your work and as the business grows so will your wages, it is our aim to be as generous as possible.
You will always get a bonus (13 cheque) based upon performance as we have done during all these years. Performance points will be taken off for unnecessary absenteeism and other misdemeanours.
It is our aim to be able to pay medical aid and pension schemes.
It is our aim not to be self-enriching but to be able to provide for all our staff so they can live as well as can be under the circumstances.
We Need Your Help
Sponsor one of our beautiful gentle giants