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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Camargue   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Camargue (also called 'the Horse of the Sea') is an ancient French breed that roams the marshes of Camargue. This is a protected breed, who is known for its grey coat.

Back in prehistoric times, horses have already roamed the region of Camargue. During the next thousands of years, these horses were influenced by foreign breeds that were brought to the region by various cavalries, such as the Roman cavalry, and out of these crossings the Camargue was born.

Camargue horses continued to live in the marshes in wild conditions until the 19th century, when more people settled in the region of Camargue, and some, though not all, of the Camargue horses were tamed. In the 1960s the Camargue became endangered, but in 1978 the breed was officially recognized by the French authorities, a studbook was established, and breeders began to manage the herds in order to conserve the breed. From that point, Camargue horses lived in semi-wild conditions, and breeders selected which Camargue horses to remove from the herds so they can be tamed and ridden, which stallions to geld, and which stallions to leave with the herd. Today, the Camargue is a protected breed, and only authorized breeders are allowed to manage the herds.

As of the 20th century, Camargue horses primarily serve as mounts for gardians- French cow-workers who live in Camargue. The gardians are responsible for the management of the local herds of Camargue bulls, who, similarly to the Camargue horses, roam wild in the marshes. Camargue horses are known for their agility, cow-sense, and ability to sprint and perform sharp turns while knee-deep in a marsh. These qualities make them the ideal cow-horses for the region.

In addition to their role as cow-horses, Camargues also serve for a variety of disciplines, be it dressage, show-jumping, driving, trekking, and endurance riding. In addition, Camargue mares are sometimes milked.

The marshes of Camargue shaped the Camargue breed into what it is today: a hardy horse who can thrive in swamps that many breeds would succumb to. As such, Camargues cope well with the hot and humid summers, the cold and windy winters, the bites from insects, the frequent rainfall, and the constant moisture around their hooves. Furthermore, relative to their size, the hooves of Camargue horses are larger and wider than seen on most other breeds, and this helps them when they travel through the swamps. In addition, illnesses are rare among Camargue horses, who are also known for their incredibly long lifespan, and for the high fertility rates of the mares.

Unlike many other horse-breeds whose conformation can slightly differ from one horse to another, the conformation of the Camargue is uniform among all members of this breed, and variations are minimal. The conformation is characterized by a "boxy" squarish head, small but wide ears, a thick neck which is short-to-medium in length, a sloping croup, and a rectangular frame. The hooves are wider and larger than seen in most other breeds. The legs are either clean from feathering or have a small tuft of feathering at the back of the fetlock. The mane, which can be double, and the tail, often grow long and thick, and are sometimes wavy.

When they are born, Camargues can have a bay, black, brown, or, to a lesser extent, chestnut coat. However, as they grow up, their coat turns grey. Mature Camargues always have a white-grey coat, with white or slightly yellowish mane and tail. In addition, they might also have pink muzzle and pink hooves because of white markings. Camargues stand between 13.1hh and 14.3hh.

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