Jo Mari Fourie is living a dream working with thoroughbreds at Riethuiskraal Stud, on the banks of the Goukou River, 15kms out on the approaches to Stilbaai. Humbly describing herself as “just a small-town girl from Maclear in the Eastern Cape” who grew up on a farm with boer-perde, regular tent-pegging/gymkhana shows and surrounded by tough, accomplished endurance riders, this effervescent young woman is now helping manage Advocate Altus Joubert’s boutique bloodstock operation.
Her grandparents’ farm also had cattle and crops, but Jo Mari’s first love is horses, having worked with them from when she was a kid, getting familiar with their habits and peculiarities whilst grooming them. Her horsey background was further extended through wise counsel from her aunt, who was then involved at Golden Acres Stud in the Natal Midlands.
“This is a dream of mine and a big opportunity – it’s also a big learning curve.” acknowledged Jo Mari graciously. She has now worked her way up to a management position at Riethuiskraal.
The extensive property, with calcium rich soils and plentiful spring water, dates to 1834. Adv Joubert bought it 23 years ago from internationally renowned novelist, Wilbur Smith, noted for brilliant storytelling and adventuresome tales of daring – do set in a historical Southern Africa context.
Joubert now has scores of broodmares on the Stud – Anna Capri and Vistula are the biggest current names. He bred National Colour, Equus Horse of the Year in 2006 – arguably one of SA’s fastest-ever sprinters who won in Dubai and was beaten a whisker in the UK’s G1 Nunthorpe. Crimson Palace, a brilliant performer in SA and a G1 winner in 2004 of the Beverley D in the USA, plus Summer Cup 2010 heroine, Flirtation, are other luminaries.
Fourie is responsible for producing the next generation of champions from Riethuiskraal.” We have an amazing team of 13 workers. It takes hard work and diligence as we try focus on each horse in our care. I feel we will build the farm up that way, together.” Currently, around 55 yearlings pass annually through their conditioning and preparation system before being sent to auction.
Fourie is quick to acknowledge the guidance of people around her. Stud and Operations manager’s, Kassie Robbertze (since emigrated to work on Lionel Cohen’s farm in Australia) and Cornelius Africa were not just respected and experienced colleagues but seen as genuine ‘” mentors.”
It’s clear this true equestrian find fulfillment working in a beautiful outdoors environment where everything is founded around the well-being of young foals, yearlings, and mares. In pursuing her passion for horses and showing a willingness to learn, matched with boundless enthusiasm, Jo Mari is proving a real asset at Riethuiskraal.