Merens Pony breed information
Merens Pony horse general information
COLORIt is always black. White markings are rare, although there is occasionally white flecking on the flanks. During the winter the breed develops a distinctive reddish cast to their coat.
SIZEThe Merens pony stands at 13-14.1 hands high.
WEIGHTThis horse breed weighs between 770 and 1,100 lbs.
ORIGINAlthough the pony has existed in its native Pyrenees and Ariegeois mountain region since prehistoric times, breeders began taking an interest in the ponies around 1908. It was bred to work in the mines of southwestern France and to haul timber. It shows similar characteristics to the Fells pony and the Friesian.
In the past Ariegeois were used to haul timber and minerals in southwest France which means it has been used as a breed of horses for work, and today they are used for trekking in mountainous areas.
USESThe Mèrens pony has been used for work in the fields, plowing and hauling. His suppleness and surefootedness allow him to work well on the steep hillsides.
TEMPRERAMENTFor leisure activities he is equally at ease in the harness or as a riding horse breed. His gentle disposition makes him a favorite with children.
In all these activities our little black horse reveals himself to be generous and devoted to his master, providing he has been well taught. As with all ponies he has a strong character, and one must be firm to make him work.
Merens Pony description
The Mérens Pony is native to the Ariège Pyrenees, having the name of a village in the high mountains close to Andorra. Paintings of horses strikingly similar to the Mèrens are found on the walls of the cave at Niaux. Gentle, hardy and economical, the Mèrens horse has long been a companion to the "Montagnol" (mountain farmer) and the soldier, notably with the armies of the Count of Foix Gaston Phoebus in the Middle Ages, and later Napoleon during the Russian campaign.
In Ariège, most of the breeders raise the horses in the open air year-round. The foals are born in the spring snow, and there are rarely any problems. In June the herd is led up to the summer pastures to spend several months in total freedom in the high mountains. This life with the herd gives the Mérens horse the mental balance for which he is known. The breed has a head that is small and refined, a neck that is strong and short, a long back, a solid shoulder, and well-rounded hindquarters.
Animals within the breed are remarkable similar, perhaps due to the long isolation. Gentle and very solid in build these ponies work well with young riders but can easily carry an adult also.
The Mèrens horse is increasing in popularity and is exported to Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Tunisia. In 1997 the association SHERPA, which promotes the race, made a gift of a young Mèrens to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has vacationed in Ariège for many years.
While Mèrens horses are increasingly bred in other regions of France and even other countries, an authentic Mèrens is one who has run free in the high Pyrenees like his ancestors thousands of years ago. The Mérens resembles another ancient breed, the Fell pony and to the larger Friesian horse. This breed is rare. This pony is very similar to the English Dales Pony.
Merens Pony history
The origins of the Ariegeois are thought to be remote, and almost certainly influenced by Arabian horse bloodlines. The breed is native to the Ariege Pyrenees, and the Merens name comes from a village high in the mountains near Andorra. Cave paintings at Niaux are strikingly similar to the Ariegeois. The breed was long used by both farmers and soldiers throughout the Middle Ages and later with Napolean during his Russian campaign. Selection for the current breed began in 1908.
Merens Pony health and genetic issues
Merens pony is popular with native Ariegeois farmers for their hardiness and disease resistance.
Merens Pony fun facts
The Merens has been used for centuries by the native farmers of the Ariegeois mountains. Popular for its hardiness and disease resistance, the Merens also found homes in the southeastern Pyrenees, around the Riviera, and into the Alps.