Camargue breed information
Camargue horse general information
COLORCamargue horses are always gray. This means that they have black skin underlying a white hair coat as adult horses. They are born with a hair coat that is black or dark brown in colour, but as they grow to adulthood, their hair coat becomes ever more intermingled with white hairs until it is completely white.
SIZECamargue are small horses, generally 13 to 14 hands high.
WEIGHTThe Camargue horse can weigh from 660 to 880lbs (300 kg to 400 kg).
LIFE EXPECTANCYThe Camargue can live from 20 to 25 years.
ORIGINThe Camargue is one of the most ancient breeds in the world. His origins are so remote that they still remain a mystery : Arab, Barb, Asiatic or Celt, descendant of the prewjalsky horse, the Camargue also has definate similarities with the « Solutré » horse (50 000 BC). The Camargue is supposed to have followed the progressive withdrawal of the sea which had flooded the Maconnais and transformed it into a vast marsh land, an environment identical to that of the present Rhône delta. Already known to the Phoenician sailors, his breeding was encouraged by Julius Caesar. He subsequently developed around Arles and is found again as the mount of the Protestant revolutionaries in the Cévennes. Later on, Napoleon recruited them for his army and they figured again around 1865 as a good carrier during the construction of the Suez Canal.
USESTheir calm temperament, agility, intelligence and stamina has resulted in these horses being used for equestrian games, dressage, and long distance riding, which is growing in popularity in France.
INFLUENCEBarb, Solutre, Arabian, Thoroughbred
The Camargue is also known as "the horse of the sea" due to its native environment, the Rhone delta in southern France. The horse is said to be a primitive breed, but there is little documented evidence to back up this claim. Whether the Camargue is ancient or not, it does bear a strong resemblance to the primitive horses painted on the walls of the Lascaux cave dated at around 15,000 BC. Horse bones of an even earlier date were dug up in the 19th century near the Rhone delta, and claims have been made that these are the Camargue's ancestors. Whatever the background, the Camargue have lived in the marshy wasteland of the delta for thousands of years and are still used by the 'gardian,' (Camargue cowboy), to work with wild bulls and sheep.
The Camargue can hardly be said to be a horse of fine conformation. Regardless, the horse is an excellent mount, being very brave and enduring. The head is a coarse, heavy Oriental-type, thereby giving it a slightly primitive appearance. Although the Camargue doesn't exactly have the aesthetic look of the Arabian, it has a strong look with a short neck and straight, upright shoulders. The body is short and the hindquarters slight. Eyes are large and expressive, ears are broad and short with a broad base, neck is short and muscular, deep at the base. Mane and tail are long and thick, withers are pronounced. Back is straight and short, croup is short and narrow, chest wide and deep, shoulder is straight and short. The legs are extremely hardy with clean joints, a long forearm, and very good hooves.
The Camargue breed was well appreciated by the Celtic and Roman invaders that entered the Iberian Peninsula, and as a result this genealogy is closely tied with Iberian horses, especially those in the northern part of the peninsula. The original Spanish "jaca" was probably a cross between the Celtic Pony and the Camargue; it was later improved further by crosses with northern European horse types and ultimately with the southern peninsular horse as the Moors spread their influence towards the Pyrenees.
As a result, the Camargue genes very probably penetrated America through the influence of the "jaca" warhorses that were taken to these inhospitable lands where hardiness was a requirement. Breeds such as the Chilean Horse and Criollo show signs of some characteristics that are common in the Camargue breed.
A Camargue horse in the marshes of the region.In 1976, in order to preserve the standards and purity of the breed, the French government set standards for the breed and started registering the main breeders of the Camargue horse. In 1978, they set up the breed Stud Book. In order to be registered, foals must be born out of doors, and must be seen to suckle from a registered mare as proof of parentage. Foals born inside the defined Camargue region are registered sous berceau, while those born elsewhere are registered hors berceau ("out of the birthplace"). These tough little horses have the heavy, square heads of primitive horses, but the influence of Arabian, Barb and Thoroughbred blood can also be seen. The gardians look after the horses and they are rounded up for annual inspections, branding and gelding of unsuitable stock.
In England, there is currently only one breeding herd. They reside at Valley Farm, in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, Suffolk. Valley Farm is also the home of the British Camargue Horse Society, which represents the Camargue Breed in Britain by maintaining a stud book for British-bred Camargue Horses and registering ownership of Camargue Horses in Britain.
The Camargue in France is a marshy river delta at the mouth of the Rhone river as it flows into the Mediterranean Sea. In 1972 the area became a national park and nature reserve. The Parc Regional de Camargue covers 820 square kilometers.
Camargue fun facts
The Camargue, because of their courage and stamina, have for years made excellent cow horses for the gardian of the Provence. However, since the number of horses far exceeds the needs of the gardian, the Camargue have at times been slaughtered for meat. Today, with areas of the Rhone delta having been set aside as wildlife sanctuaries, the Camargue has reclaimed its homeland as well as establishing a purpose for itself as an ideal form of transportation throughout the marshland for the tourists. In addition, the gardians, known to be proud of their heritage, are helping to preserve the breed. By exhibiting breed's skills at local festivals, people are becoming aware of the breed.
They are one of the oldest breeds of horses and can be traced back to the prehistoric age.