Did you know?
The Richmond Horse Museum is housed in a classic Karoo building with large, shuttered windows and a front balcony. Before the horse museum was established in the 1950s, the building was used by a school and as a cabinet maker's workshops and residence.
The small town of Richmond lies in the Northern Cape section of the vast, dry Karoo, and horses thrive in this semi-desert.
The high altitude, low rainfall and frosty winter weather resemble the Gobi desert, where they first evolved. Also, the soils and water are remarkably high in trace minerals, especially calcium, which are excellent for bone formation.
The trekboers (early Afrikaans farmers) who had spent a nomadic life on horseback in the Karoo were already some of the most outstanding riders in the world.
That’s part of what makes the Richmond Horse Museum such an interesting display. It is one of only a few museums in the world dedicated to the saddle horse.
Since the early years of settlement in and movement through the Karoo to reach the diamond- and gold fields of the interior, there was always a good living to be made in this area, breeding the draught horses, carriage horses and riding horses needed by the endless stream of traffic headed north.
One of the most important pieces in the Richmond Horse Museum is the ‘Nachtmaal Wa’ (night service wagon), which dates back to the 1850s and was used by local farmers coming into town for worship and socialising once a quarter.
There are a number of horse publications, photographs of shows gone by and riding tack from the pioneer days on show. There’s also a quirky story attached to one of the display items.
During the South African War (formerly known as the Anglo-Boer War), local Richmond resident Daan de Kock lost an arm in an engagement with British forces near one of the little blockhouses around the town.
His concerned friends had a wooden arm specially made for him, but Daan hated the prosthetic and refused to ever wear it. The offending wooden arm is now on display at the Richmond Horse Museum.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Richmond Horse Museum
Tel: +27 (0)53 693 0176
How to get here
Richmond lies between Hanover and Beaufort West on the N1 highway, which is the main driving route between Cape Town and Johannesburg. It lies roughly half way (about seven hours either way).
Best time to visit
Very hot summers, chilly winters. It's lovely at the changes of season, in April-May, and October-November.
What will it cost
A small donation to the museum would be appreciated.
Length of stay
Try to spend two hours at the museum, and a couple of days in Richmond if you can.
Where to stay
Richmond has a number of good self catering and B&B establishments.
What to eat
Good places to eat at are Die Richmond Supper Klub and the Blue Lantern.
The Richmond Book Festival, usually held in late October, is good fun.
There are book bargains galore.