Majestic Moonlight celebrates his 21st birthday

21st Aug, 2019

Written by Marike Kotzé – PRO and Online Fundraiser – Cart Horse Protection Association

A pony named Moonlight, icon of the Capetonian carting industry, is turning 21 years old this year.

Eighteen years ago, Moonlight arrived on the back of a bakkie (pick-up truck) with other young horses all the way from Napier (a practice which is no longer allowed) to work as carthorses. On that first night, he had to sleep on the back of the bakkie, as he was so wild that no one could unload him.

A love of horses

Luckily for Moonlight, he’d arrived at the stables of some of the best horsemen in the carting industry, the Ockardts family. Ahmat Ockardts used to drive the local District Six midwife around in his cart before the forced removals. Most of his children have inherited Ahmat’s love for horses, and their horsemanship skills have been passed on from generation to generation.

Nasroedien Ockardts soon trained the little grey pony, and Moonlight has since taught many a driver how things are done. One of the well-established owners, Leroy de Villiers, worked with him as a child and, today, Moonlight is gentleness itself.

Moonlight wasn’t only a working horse but was also used as a show pony. In 2012, the then 12-year-old Faiek Kassiem (a nephew of the Ockardts) won a prize with him at the annual Cart Horse Show.

Currently owned by Jasmine “Miena” Kassiem, Ahmat Ockardt’s granddaughter, he’s had the same driver, Michael “Attie” van Nelson for the last decade, and they have a deep understanding of each other.

Clever clogs

Moonlight has quite the sense of humour, and he’s even been known to leave Attie where he was picking up vegetables and trot off home on his own, waiting patiently in front of the house to be let in. He responds to Attie’s voice commands even if he’s not on the cart and is trusted to go around the block with Jasmine’s four-year-old grandson.

This clever pony stops on his own at a red light and moves on when it turns green. It’s rumoured that, as well as knowing his traffic signals, Moonlight can read and write...

We celebrate a pony that’s been in this misunderstood industry for a long time, flying the flag for working horses, and has been so well taken care of that he’s still able to work, albeit now only on a part-time basis.

Read more about the Cart Horse Protection Association here