The history and development of the four Southern African horse breeds, i.e. Basutho Pony, Nooitgedacht, South African (SA) Boerperd and Cape Boerperd, are traced from their common ancestor, the Cape Horse, to the present day. Recent blood-typing studies of the first three have shown them to be closer related to each other than to any other world breed. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Southern African horse industry was devastated after the Anglo Boer War (1899–1902). Indiscriminate crossbreeding and intentional importation of other specialized breeds led to the near extinction of the descendants of the Cape Horse in South Africa. Fortunately, the efforts of the Government Department of Agriculture and a number of private breeders to identify, conserve and develop the then existing genetic material over the past half century, resulted in the existence today of three small, but viable, registered breeds of locally adapted and versatile horses viz. Nooitgedacht, SA Boerperd and Cape Boerperd. The recent history and apparent present situation of the Basutho Pony in the neighbouring country of Lesotho was also described.