Semonkong Horse Races
Semonkong remains a remote frontier town isolated from the rest of Southern Africa, which has allowed the Basotho pony to thrive & stay at the centre of Basotho life. Ponies are not only used in everyday activities, such as transport of people and goods, they also have their time in the spotlight. The monthly (in winter) horse races are one of these times.
The horse races happen at Semonkong because our entire livelihood revolves around Basotho ponies & horse owners who are completely passionate about the sport. Weather permitting, once a month, the local Semonkong Racing committee organises horse races for a Saturday afternoon, once a challenge has arisen. There are various tracks in the area & everyone gathers on the day with great excitement & jubilation.
Competitors must be in the same class as the challenger horse i.e. yearlings race other yearlings. Negotiation takes place over the amount paid to enter the race and the distance covered. There are sprint races starting at 1200m for the foals, to approximately 1800m for the older horses, with the occassional Trippling races too. The Basotho Ponies are trained to tripple – it is a gate between trotting and catering.
Many horse owners will gather to bet against each other, to back the speed of their own horse. The horse owners bet big money & all the herd boys bet smaller amounts. Should you bet against each other a third party will hold the money until winner takes all.
With tensions rising, the jockeys mount their steeds awaiting the flag to drop. The crowd gathers from far and wide, watch on horseback and on foot. They cheer with elation or disappointment depending on the winner, which is declared by official judges. The event repeats itself with different players until the next month when another challenge is issued.
The biggest horse races are usually the weekend of the King’s Birthday (17th July) and Independence weekend (8th October). We do encourage guests, and companies of whoever is willing to sponsor the horse races – the greater the prize money the bigger the event.
Horse Racing Schedule 2017:
All races at Ha Mateketa – over the hill from Semonkong Lodge)
- Saturday 15th April (Paseka = Easter)
- Saturday 27th May
- Saturday 17th June
- Saturday 15th July (King’s Birthday Weekend)
- Saturday 26th August
- Saturday 07th October (Independence Weekend)
Please note the horse races are subject to weather conditions & there is a possibility that venues may change accordingly.