South African Breeding and Racing Continue Despite Long Odds

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By Tom Thornbury, Associate Director of Sales, Keeneland 

Those who breed horses in places where there is plenty of water, good grass, consistent climates, available quality veterinary care, localized industry and educated work staff should know that they have it relatively easy compared to the conditions with which some South African breeders must contend. 

Considering that there is a need to irrigate in order to have grass, hay or grain, the South African farmer is already contending with costly, unreliable water resources. There has been an ongoing drought in the Northern interior of South Africa this year, creating near desperate conditions for man and animals. Add to that the fact that some breeding farms are likely to be many hours apart, necessitating long trips and thus creating a feeling of isolation for some breeders. Breeders elsewhere should think of themselves as extremely fortunate in comparison, and we haven't even added the fact that South African horsemen are hamstrung by their inability to export their breeding and racing product due to the stifling protocol directly related to the rare occurrence of African Horse Sickness in their country. It should be noted, however, that those farms in the Western and Eastern Cape regions enjoy considerably better conditions than those to the Northern interior. There is more than ample rainfall, constant and more abundant water resources, closer proximity to other farms, centralized veterinary care, and greater safety and security, and the Cape region remains an African Horse Sickness "Free Zone." 

Read the full story in the November 17, 2013 issue of the TDN. Click here to download the pdf. 

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