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The Camargue Horses of Domaine de Biar

 

Gray horse of the Camargue

The Camargue horse is a very special horse; it is an ancient breed indigenous to the natural region south of Arles ~ the Camargue ~ the marshy wetlands of the Rhône River delta where the horses roam free.  The Camargue horse is one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world, having lived thousands of years in this environment, and it is native to France.  It is believed that it descended from the extinct Soultré horse from prehistoric times.  Early visitors to the region who had seen the horses include the Celts, Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians,  Julius Caesar encouraged their breeding, and their strength and sturdiness appealed to Napoléon who used them for his army.  The horses were put to work in large numbers during the construction of the Suez Canal.



Camargue horses at the Domaine de BiarRiding a Camargue horse
It is a relatively small horse, but very strong and can easily carry an adult for riding.  Admired for their endurance and intelligence, the horses  are perhaps best known as the reliable mount  used by  the gardians of the Camargue to herd the black Camargue bulls.


 


Domaine de Biar maintains a herd of those black bulls and cattle that graze on its prairies and benefit from access to the water of the River Mosson that runs through the estate.  The Domaine organizes events focusing on traditional practices such as training or branding, and it is also a manade (semi-feral small herd) that boards and breeds the horses.  At this time there are over 25 mares and stallions who live in the meadows of the estate.

Camargue Horse at BiarCamargue Horse and Donkey

Camargue horse



Camargue horses are gray ~ they really are not white.  When they are born they have a bay or roan coat over black skin.  As they mature more and more white hair covers them to give the appearance of being white horses.  The French government set standards for the breed in 1976 to preserve its purity, and they started registering the main breeders of the Camargue horse.  A breed stud book was set up in 1978. As a guest of the incredible Domain de Biar, you can visit with these amazing, even-tempered, beautiful horses up close, and perhaps you will have the opportunity to enjoy a ride.


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