The South Africans who put horses on a New York stage have received special Tony recognition.

Cape Town's 30-year-old Handspring Puppet Company, which created the life-size and lifelike horse puppets for "War Horse," was named a special Tony award winner Tuesday. "War Horse" also received a best play nomination.

Basil Jones, a Handspring co-founder, says: "It was wonderful to be able to announce it on the factory floor."

Based on a Michael Morpurgo novel, the play about horses on World War II battlefields opened in 2007 at London's National Theatre, and in New York last month.

Twelve Handspring craftsmen created puppets durable enough to last 1,000 performances. Handspring sent one of its own puppeteers to London for the first season.