Bonyl (meaning “Upper Nile”) was registered by my late father, S van Wyk van der Hoven, as the name of his Arabian horse stud during the 1970s. I took over the reins in 2003 and started breeding Golden Retrievers in addition to the Crabbet Arabians.
Developing an eye for a good animal was probably the natural consequence of my childhood environment. I qualified as an art teacher in the 1980s and have been a practising artist since, which has further honed and developed my powers of observation and discernment.
Arabian horses are the ultimate ultra distance athletes of the animal kingdom. My own marathon running and riding of Arabian horses, have given me a more than intellectual,
more than skin-deep appreciation of the functioning of the animal physique… There is however, one very big difference between Arabians and Goldens: Equus Arabicus is an ancient breed whose origins are lost in the mists of pre-history. Goldens are the new kids on the block.
Retriever breeders may do well to take a leaf from the ancient breeding book of the Arabian horse, because Goldens and Arabian have much in common too: good looks, service temperaments and a physiology able to take the punch... the parallels exist even down to the split between the so-called working Retrievers (endurance Arabians), show Retrievers (in hand show Arabians) and obedience Retrievers (show riding).
However, well documented Arabian breeding practices over the centuries, and particularly during the last 150 years, have revealed that breeders who aim to breed animals that can tick all the boxes (including that elusive, and all-important service temperament box), complex as it may seem, make the most enduring contribution to the breed.
Which is why breeding better all-rounders has been Bonyl’s unflinching, albeit daunting and humbling, breeding aim for more than 36 years.
- Liane van der Hoven