Shipwrecked or The Boer War: Where did South Africa’s only wetland wild horses come from?


Wild horses are the ultimate symbol of freedom. There’s a romance to horses running free and untamed, an enigmatic quality to their independence that creates attraction and allure. Nowhere is this truer than for South Africa’s only wetland wild horses. Because nobody knows where they come from.

Roaming free in the Rooisand Nature Reserve, the horses are the subject of countless rumours and speculation. Some say that they are descended from cavalry horses used in the Anglo-Boer War. Others that their ancestors swam kilometres to shore after a shipwreck. A less flighty suggestion is that they were once farm animals that escaped or were abandoned. Bruce Boyd is an IT professional turned fashion photographer who fell in love with this group of wild horses after a trip in 2013. He has since dedicated a substantial amount of time to documenting the elusive creatures, and is actively involved in protecting the horses from being classified as domestic. 

Today the self-sufficient horses can be seen roaming near the mouth of Botrivier, with bodies adapted to suit the wetland terrain. Their broadened hooves are shaped to walk on soft, damp terrain and their diet has changed to let the horses subsist on the vegetation in the area.