‘ Love at first sight’
A Newcastle man is raising the quality of farm horses
MQONDISI Dladla’s passion for horses has seen him become the first black person to start a stud farm for Standardbred horses in the country.
He hopes his horses will one day contribute to improving the quality of those running in the annual Dundee July, which has become a leading race for tripping horses. The horses currently running the race are of mixed breeds and are usually farm horses.
Dladla, from Newcastle, was born in Osizweni just outside the town.
He said in an interview that his passion for horses started when he was about six years old, visiting his grandfather who was a livestock farmer just outside Newcastle. There was a small herd of mixed horses, which were used to herd cattle, which Dladla rode.
He started cattle farming on a small scale in 2004 and bought some horses for herding.
A chance drive by the Utrecht horseracing track, where there was a tripping race under way, changed his perspective instantly. “I could not believe the speed and the agility of those horses. It was love at first sight,” said Dladla.
At the time, the provincial Department of Sports and Recreation and Trotting South Africa had plans to import a Standardbred stallion, Golden Tilly, from Sweden.
Standardbred horses are natural gaiters and are naturally conformed to the Rural Telebhela Racing Gait, needed for the races hosted yearly at Dundee by the Department of Sport and Recreation.
The top bloodline stallion was imported and made available and accessible to rural horsemen and women who were interested in the Telebhela Gait Race, to create a standard breed of horses to race at the Dundee July.
For Dladla it was an invaluable opportunity. “I started to buy breeding mares which were to be foundation horses for breeding this amazing breed. I looked for top registered bloodlines of different breeds from top South African breeders — the Cape Boerperd, SA Boerperd, American Saddlers as well as Thoroughbreds. Due to financial constraints, I took only four of my mares for covering and three conceived.”
He said he now has two fillies and a colt from the stallion, and he recently acquired a one- year- old colt from the same imported registered Standardbred ( Golden Tilly) sire and a fully imported Standardard-bred dam both from Sweden.
Mqondisi Dladla with a foal sired by winning Swedish Standardbred stallion Golden Tilly, which was brought to South Africa to improve the bloodline of the rural horses racing in the Dundee July. Dladla, a municipal director from Newcastle, has started a stud farm and is the first black person to own a business dedicated to improving the blood stock of tripping and cart horses in the country.