In the deep southwest of the huge African continent is a vast country called Namibia, part of two of the oldest and driest deserts of the world. These deserts frame the country all along its length, sometimes merging when the horrific droughts plague this region. They are the Kalahari along the east and the Namib to the west. Sandwiched between these deserts are a people of very different cultural backgrounds living, who carve out their living in the tough environment. In Namibia, nine official languages are spoken.
Tourists have discovered this hauntingly beautiful place and are an important part of the revenue for this region. In fact, Namibia was so devoid of any attractive income that it was the last piece up for grabs when the western world was looking for colonies. Namibia, originally known as South-West Africa, became a German colony, as the Germans had been relatively uninterested in Imperialism, but soon diamonds were discovered, washed down the Orange River and the country became wanted for a short time.
Since this vast region is so devoid of humans, the wild animals had a chance to survive and thrive here outside any parks or conservation areas. Leopards and cheetah roam the land, while desert lions, desert elephants, giraffe and all the other magical animals roam the deserts. Nobody who has witnessed the sunsets in Namibia, with the clear, most rich and golden light, will ever forget this magic. One could call Namibia the paradise of the clear golden light.
Once the sun has set, no artificial light pollutes the night and soon the first yowl of the jackal call will fill the air.
Somehow, the Arabian horse found its way into the country and because of the dry climate, has thrived here. People love their Arabian horses, who are low maintenance and live out in the open savannahs. Their foals are prone to predation from leopards and hyenas. As the Arabian horse does not need so much to live, it has survived better than other horse breeds. No less than 1,000 registered Arabian horses roam on private farmland in Namibia. One of the most loved sports is endurance, that takes place on farms and in the desert.
Shows are not that big, because there is a lack of funds, but still the Arabian Horse Breeders Society of Namibia, who belongs to WAHO, manages to hold a show once a year where breeders show their bloodlines.
One of the studs that is prominent in Namibia is Charlottenberg Arabians, nestled on the rim of a crater in which Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, lies. The view down to the escarpment into the desert from here is immense.
At night, cold winds creep up from the desert and bring relief from the hot days sweeping through the stables. African horse sickness is a great danger to the horses, and the cold air at night gets rid of the midges carrying this dreaded, deadly virus.
The du Toit family found Charlottenberg Arabians in 2013. The most magical moments of this family are spent together with their horses, riding across the vast lands of Namibia and doing endurance. The family celebrates each foal, greeting the new arrival in the barn, and I deliver all the foals.
Once a year in March, when the dry landscape is transformed into magical green, we host an open day to celebrate the magic of the time with their friends and lovers of the Arabian horse. By that time, there are usually already a few foals, as we like to have our foals early in the year to take advantage of extra good grazing during the rainy season.
Few people come to an open day here because there are not many people living in Namibia, and even less interested in the Arabian horse. However, the day is a chance for us to spend time with our family and our horses, reminding ourselves how lucky we are to have these magical family friends.
The day began with a family procession on horseback of homebred horses from the beautiful stable barn up to the arena, with the first two riders carrying the Charlottenberg Arabians banner between them.
It is very important for us that our horses all are ridden and under saddle. As a family, we all partake in the endurance sport and showing. Bouwer Equine, which comprises Nadia Bouwer, herself a judge and exceptional show rider, and Wynand Bouwer, a well-known international handler, help us achieve this.
After the opening procession, we all ride a few rounds in the arena, explaining different riding disciplines: costume, English, and western.
As the open day is actually for breeders, it is great fun to show the family groups of horses that make up our breeding programme. We started with Crabbet horses and offspring of the famous South African stallion Silvern Gleam (Bright Crown x Silvern Dream by Silvadoris). These horses are beautiful riding horses, especially when crossed with straight Egyptian blood, and are still some of our best riding horses we have today.
Torsen Hobart (Silvern Gleam x Al Shaqab al Zazena by Johrhemar el Khartoum), one of Charlottenberg Arabians’ first riding horses
Following this group was the family of an amazing, sizable liver chestnut mare acquired some years ago in South Africa named Chapmar Cleopatra. Her sire was Patrician B (Besson Carol x Palitrina by Menes) and her dam was Banghor Mahdepa (Maistro x Mahasin by Ghadames). Chapmar Cleopatra has brought everything that a mare could possibly bring to the stud. She has won Supreme Champion Mare in halter, and became Champion under saddle in the more than one riding discipline. She is extremely fertile and has brought the stud a foal every year so far, nine in total, including the stunning young stallion Charlottenberg Constantin. Sired by El Nabila B (Kubinec x 218 Elf Layla Walayla B by Assad), with the breeding facilitated by Cindy Reich, Charlottenberg Constantin has sired remarkable foals, bringing further improvement of our stud.
Chapmar Cleopatra with filly foal by Shaykh Barani (Sharena El-Bani x Arabmar Lyia by Silvern Gleam)
Charlottenberg Constantin (El Nabila B X Chapmar Cleopatra)
Charlottenberg Charlotte (EKS Antigua x Chapmar Cleopatra)
Following Cleopatra and her stunning offspring came the family of Złota Rola (Laheeb x Złota Orda by Pesal). Bred by the Michałow State Stud in Poland, Złota Rola won the Supreme Halter Mare at the Namibian National Championships last year. She was presented with her two daughters – the beautiful Złota Bibi (by Ascot DD by Glorious Apal out of Lady Nina DD), who was Junior Female Champion at the National Show, and the yearling Charlottenberg Złota Zaphora (by Charlottenberg Constantin), named as 2023 Foal Champion in Namibia.
Charlottenberg Złota Zaphora
Following this group of grey beauties were the bold bays from Polish descent – the mare Charlottenberg Drewiske (Equator x Drzewicia by Ganges) and her two-year-old daughter out of EKS Antigua (WN Star of Antigua x Bint Starbright Bey by Besson Carol), Charlottenberg Dezcelina. We also saw her strong, three-month-old dark bay colt Charlottenberg Derwash (by Om El Exceed by Om El Bellissimo out Om El Excella). Drewiske is an extremely laid back mare who takes everything in her stride when being ridden, even when the young foal calls from the stable. She has the amazing movement of her father, World Champion Equator (QR Marc x Ekliptyka by Ekstern). With this group, we also presented the bay, well-balanced yearling filly Charlottenberg Czartilla, by Charlottenberg Constantin and out of Czartana (Ganges x Czartawa by Arbil).
Demeter (Wojsław x Dabora by Borek) followed, a mare bred at Michałow and with the most amazing eyes, temperament, body, and race record. At her side was a young gelding by RFI Farid (RFI Maktub x RFI Fayara el Shiraz by Shiraz el Jamaal), who has started his endurance career.
Charlottenberg Camar (Kahil Al Shaqab x Chapmar Cleopatra) (left) and Demeter
Last but not least, we presented the P family of Charlottenberg, founded by Perylla, a fleabitten mare we acquired at Białka Stud in Poland. She is maternal half-sister to the famous Perfirka, being out of Perforacja (Ernal x Pentoza by Ellorus), and is out of Metropolis NA (Consensus x NDL Martinique by Muscat). Perylla is famous in Namibia for her spirited way of presenting herself in the performance class ridden by Nadia, and the pair have made waves in Namibia. At the open day this year, she had two of her progeny by her side, the yearling filly Charlottenberg Pilarka (by Eks Ibn Fadi by Fadi al Shaqab out of OFW Psylhouette), for sure a show stopper with her other worldly, diva-like presentation and movement, and the colt foal Charlottenberg Papillion (by Charlottenberg Constantin), who trotted along enthusiastically.
Perylla with Charlottenberg Pilarka and Charlottenberg Papillion
All this was captured by the amazing photographer Xenia Ivanoff-Erb, who has an exceptional eye for the right mood, moment, character, and light to bring out the nobility of the Arabian horse. How lucky we were to meet this lady by chance not long before in her photography studio in Swakopmund.
The day ended with a social get together in the farm’s garden that overlooks the escarpment which eventually falls into the desert. While all the kids were playing in the pool, everybody enjoyed a glorious sunset and barbecue.
EKS Muayyad (Mahboob al Hawajer x So Special IA by Enzo)
As the day drew to a close, everyone made the way back home under the star-studded Namibian night sky. The horses were tucked up in the stables, protecting the foals from leopard attacks, and the du Toit family also eventually snuggled up in their beds, listening to the distant jowl of the jackals. It had been again a perfect happy family day.
Photography by Xenia Ivanoff-Erb
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