The Du Plessis family of Mimosa Stables can proudly say they show horses which are trained by amateurs in their free time. Over the years, they have been extremely competitive against professionally trained opponents. Louise De Wet reports.
In 1983 Jan du Plessis bought an
undeveloped farm in the Welkom district. He named the farm, and the stables his family built there, Mimosa.
Because the farm was undeveloped, Jan and his wife Tertia could style and build their home, stables and outbuildings exactly to their liking. As full-time businesspeople they had limited time for sessions at the stables, so they decided to work in the pleasure horse division, where caring for the horses is less time-consuming than in other classes.
Jan and his daughters Teléne and Janene have represented the Free State Sub-Union at the SA Amateur Saddle Horse Championships.
A stable full of stars
Their first SA Saddle Horse, a mare named Majel’s Laurette, was bought from Gertruida Wessels’ Majel Stud in Hertzogville. For many years Majel’s Laurette dominated the five-gaited pleasure horse classes at the Free State Regional Shows. She was ultimately crowned Reserve Grand Champion Five-gaited Pleasure Horse at the SA Games, a division in which another Mimosa horse, the gelding Ribbons Of Glory, was later crowned SA Grand Champion (see box: Fine horses for young riders).
Another top performer was a Single Harness Horse, Little Bachelor. While still a junior horse he won the Single Harness Championship at the SA Games, and in 1991 he became SA Grand Champion Single Harness Horse. His name is recorded on the Honours Roll in the Bill Sieberhagen Hall at the Bloemfontein Showgrounds.
Mimosa’s stars also include Marchioness, Harlekyn, another great single harness horse and True Blue who, until her untimely death before she was five, was never beaten in a class. It’s sad that a foal could not have been bred from this exceptional mare.
The family love grey horses, like the mare L’air Du Temps, a great achiever in the classes and the Grand Championships in the division.
Another great grey mare, Do It Again, who proved to be quite a handful, bequeathed her lively temperament to her descendants – most of the horses owned and shown by Mimosa Stables today. That fiery temperament is genetic – Do It Again was a “doubly”-bred offspring of Young Lover, owned by the late Gerrit van Schalkwyk of Williston. He was one of the most difficult horses – unusual in an SA Saddle Horse – to win numerous Single Harness Championships, and became SA Grand Champion in this division in 1965.
Another Mimosa grey was the good-looking colt Cavaco Rosa Applejack, who won many prizes in the In Hand classes as a colt, but unfortunately died from colic before he was a senior. His death was a great loss, as a great future was foreseen for him.
Over the years the family has owned many good horses: Bourbon’s Bonfire, Copycat, Mr Donald, Gabrito Senorita, Tame The Wind, Little Flirt, Jack Frost, Sword Dancer, and Cavaco Rosa The Unpredictable.
Fine horses for young riders
Of all the Du Plessis’ horses, Ribbons of Glory was extremely special to them. He was the horse that carried family members on their first entry into the show ring and the gelding made sure no one was hurt while riding him.
At one show, both the Du Plessis daughters, Teléne and Janene, did well on him in Walk/Trot classes, before he won the Five-gaited Pleasure Horse class when shown by dad Jan. Because Ribbons of Glory had to do double duty at shows, the family needed another good children’s three-gaited horse for Teléne and Janene, and they bought Major Bambolini. He started out as a Walk/Trot horse, but later became Teléne’s Saddle Seat Equitation mount in the Three-gaited Division. She gained her SA Protea Colours on him.
Janene showed Afternoons and Coffee Spoons, a special mare who at one regional show won the Under-12 Three-gaited and the Ladies Fine Harness classes, plus the Three-gaited and Fine Harness Grand Championships.
Like her dam Do It Again and her sire Dare to Win, Cavaco Rosa Mission Impossible was a very sensitive mare. With lots of patience on Jan’s part she became a show horse to be reckoned with, and an excellent broodmare. She and Jan shared a special bond.
Before she was sold, this beautiful mare produced three foals, which are now all in the Mimosa Stables show team. The eldest is the five-gaited gelding Cavaco Rosa Special Assignment. Over the last two years he’s won several Grand Champion Fine Harness classes and has been Reserve Champion in Five-gaited Stakes.
The mare’s second foal, Cavaco Rosa Prime Suspect, has been a grand champion in Fine Harness classes and is now a novice in Three-gaited mare classes.
Covaco Rosa Mission Impossible’s colt Covaca Rosa A Matter of Honour is the last foal by the great sire, Trojan. He’s grown into a very promising potential sire. He is a harness horse and will shortly be trained in the five gaits.
Growing up horseriding
The Du Plessis’ daughter Teléne spent her school holidays at the stables of different trainers, before deciding to remain an amateur rider. She practised the correct patterns for Saddle Seat equitation Seven days a week – heels down, legs passive, sitting upright and looking through the horse’s ears.
At 13, Teléne was chosen as one of the final eight competitors in the Champion of Champions and as one of the SA Protea Junior Three-gaited team members who competed against an English team in the UK. The next year she was selected as a member of the SA Saddle Seat Equitation Five-gaited Team, which competed successfully against a US team at the Uniondale Show.
The year Teléne received her Protea Colours, she travelled to the Tulbagh and Robertson shows, but the vet found the horses had been vaccinated too late for African Horse Sickness and had to leave the Western Cape immediately. Two horses were quickly leased for Teléne to ride in the tests. Everything turned out well when the South African team won the international competition.
Teléne is looking forward to completing her tertiary training and competing in the show ring again.
Her younger sister, Janene, prefers the “performance” classes. She and Jan showed Afternoons and Coffee Spoons in the Amateur Three-gaited and Under-12 Three-gaited classes – and usually won too.