The White Horses of the Camargue
Gardians & the White Horses of the Camargue
Photographs and Text by Tony Bonanno, Santa Fe, New Mexico
There are a few spaces left for the October, 2020 Camargue Photo Workshop . Email Tony Bonanno for details.
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Email Tony Bonanno for details about the 2020 Camargue Photo Workshop, October 1st-6th
Saintes Maries de la Mer, France
No mountains, no relief.. a horizon line separating the land (and water) from the sky. The Rhone Delta of southern France. The estuaries, ponds, brackish waters...all blending towards the Mediterranean. And the Camargue horses, inhabiting the area for thousands of years, along with Pink Flamingos, Grey Herons, black bulls, and the many sounds of nature.
The Camargue Horse is often called “the Horse of the Sea”. They are wonderful animals to watch and study.. and to photograph. Today, most of the horses are semi-feral and live on large expanses of open lands (or manades) managed by the Gardians. Most have never been ridden or broken. The Camargue Horse is often characterized as a “primitive” breed, meaning that the breed has had minimal interference from mankind.
The Gardians are the “keepers” of the Camargue Horse. It is a culture that goes back hundreds of years in this region of France. The Gardian and their herders are responsible for managing the semi-feral herds and ensuring the purity of the breed and the protection of the herds. The breed is protected by French law.
Acknowledgements: A big thanks to California based photojournalist Jodie Willard who invited me to co-lead a photographic workshop in the Camargue in 2015. This was the first of my many forays into this wonderful world of white horses and Gardians. I’m equally thankful to French nature photographer, Patrice Aguilar, whose help was invaluable in accessing the best of the Camargue. A special “thank you” to the incredible Camargue Gardians, their families, riders, and staff who were so generous with their time, their beautiful horses, and knowledge.
Tony Bonanno is an internationally acclaimed photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His fine art images have been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums throughout the US and abroad. The artist's goal in photographing these beautiful animals was to explore the intersection of light, water, and movement that emphasizes the power, grace and beauty of this special breed of horse. It was also the artist’s goal to photograph and capture a glimpse of the “Gardian” culture which is so important to the protection and well being of the Camargue Horse.
In addition to Tony Bonanno's personal work in the Camargue and his interviews with Gardians, other sources of information on these pages include Wikipedia, various websites, "Horses of the Camague" by Hans Silvester, 1976, and "Camargue" by Michel Drott, 1963.
© Copyright 2019 Tony Bonanno All Rights Reserved