Arabs mad for our Arabians

01 December 2015 - 02:15 By Aron Hyman

Where does a sheik go when he wants a really good Arabian horse? To South Africa, of course. Foreign buyers - mostly from the Middle East - have spent almost R8-million on 58 South African bred horses, and are footing a R29-million bill for their transportation.Buyers include the Dubai royal family, which has purchased 48 horses, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, who has bought three, and US and British interests .It is the biggest single shipment of horses from South Africa.The horses are mostly Arabians - including a mare sold for R4-million - but there are some American Saddlers and Warm Bloods in the mix.The horses were flown out of Cape Town yesterday on a chartered Qatar Airlines flight on the first leg of a three-month journey.The plane is taking them to Mauritius, where they will be quarantined for 12 weeks.EU and United Arab Emirates regulations require that the horses be quarantined in a region free of African horse sickness before they can be imported.The horses spent 40 days in quarantine in South Africa.Collection and four-month quarantine costs amounted to at least $2-million, said Kerry Hobday, logistics manager for Hobday Equestrian Enterprises, the shipping company responsible for the consignment.Chief state veterinarian for the Boland region Gary Buhrmann said the horses were being transported in stalls and would not be sedated for the flight unless an individual was "stressed".Buhrmann said South Africa bred exceptional Arabian horses which were used for endurance racing in the UAE."About half of races in the UAE are being won by South African-bred Arabs."Our horses are very good. We sell Arabian horses to Arabs."The horses come from breeders across South Africa including the Lormar stud, in Richmond, in the Karoo, and Sanniesguns, in the Free State.The Elkana stud farm in Stellenbosch sold an Arabian show horse for R4-million.The average price of the endurance horses is R150000."Dubai buys about 300 horses a year from South Africa but this is the biggest single consignment so far," Hobday said."That we're selling so many horses, despite the export difficulties, is testimony to their quality."

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