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Camargue Horses No. 14

About the Camargue Horse

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 an ancient breed and probably existed in the region since prehistoric times. Some experts suggest the breed is very similar in appearance to the horses depicted in prehistoric cave paintings in France. Some think the Camargue Horse may be descended from the now extinct Soutre Horse (17,000 years ago). If the Camargue Horse is descended from the Soutre Horse, then it may even be related to the wild horses of Mongolia. Over the centuries, the Camargue Horse adapted to the harsh environment of the Camargue wetlands and marshes of southern France. They are hardy, disease resistant, agile, and sure footed.

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 Camargue breed is relatively small, usually only 13-14 hands in size. A large stallion somewhat bigger. They are strong and rugged for their size. They have broad hooves and are well adapted to the wet environment. They endure extreme weather, extended periods without food, and travel long distances effortlessly. They are mild mannered, but lively and brave.

The Camargue Horse is often characterized as “wild”. The horses are “wild” in the sense that they are not confined. Most living on their own terms on large expanses of land (the manades) with minimal contact with humans. The Camargue Horse roams the natural pastures, marshes, and wetlands foraging on the natural vegetation that's available to them; which today is mostly in the marshes due to the cultivation of much of the land for agriculture. Foals are usually born in April, and usually at night. For a Camargue Horse to be considered a “pure breed”, they have to be “born in the wild.” And they are born dark. They don't turn white until they are grown and between 4-7 years old. Young stallions spend a lot of time learning how to be “dominant” and how to fight. They spar a lot, but rarely are hurt. It is almost like play.

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