In its wild state, the Camargue horse is found only in southeaster France. it is believed to de descended from prehistoric horses that lived during the Paleolithic period 17,000 years ago. Because of its small size the Camargue horse could be more accurately described as a pony. The Camargue is an ancient breed that is believed to have been crossbreed with other breeds, particularly Arabian horses.
Habitat: The wild Camargue horse is found only on the watery plains and salt marches of southeastern France. The region is bleak and cold in the winter and intensely hot in the summer, but the hardy Camargue horse has adapted well to these conditions. The Camargue horse may have descended from prehistoric horses that lived father north. Bones of the Solitaire horses, dating from the Paleolithic period (17,000 years ago), were discovered there, And the many horse images in Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux give evidence of prehistoric horses in southwestern France.
Breeding: The Camargue horse lives and
breeds in herds that roams. In some herds, dominant stallions force out
young mares, which form their own bachelor herds. Once they are mature
and strong enough, the young males try to win a herd of mares for them
selves. The stallions fight one another with their hooves and teeth.
Mares come into season once a year, usually tin late spring. The foal is
born 11 to 15 months later in the spring. A mare does ot necessarily breed
every year that she mates. The foal stays close to it mother for
its first few months, and she guards it aggressively. If the mare becomes
pregnant the following year, the foal is weaned after 10 months. But if
she does not become pregnant, the foal suckles for up to 2 years.
Food & Feeding: The horse is an herbivore
(plant eater). Its teeth are specially adapted for eating grasses and herbs.
incisors (cutting teeth) tear the plants, and premolars (grinding teeth)
behind the incisors chew the meal. In spring the Camargue horse also
grazes on an indigenous (native to the region) plant called "samphire,"
as well as on the tender new shoots of the tall reeds.
In Winter the Camargue horse must survive on dried grass and on goose foot, a tough plant that most other grazing animals cannot eat. The horse's behavior is affected by the amount of food available. When food is scare, the Camargue horse may graze for as long as 22 hours a day. When food is plentiful, it grazes only at dawn and dusk.
Horse & Man: The Camargue horse is the traditional mount of the farm workers, or ranch hands, of the Camargue region, called "guardians." The guardians are responsible for rounding up the wild black bulls that graze on the land. There is also an annual roundup of the horses to inspect and brand the newborn foals. The Camargue horse is also bred and used by many riding stables in the region. Once the horse is accustomed to a rider and saddle, it makes an excellent and reliable mount. Its sure footedness makes it ideal for riding over hazardous terrain.
Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle,
Height: 13 to 14.2 hands high (1 hand =4 in)
Sexual Maturity: Female, 18 months. Males, 1 to 2 years
Mating: Late Spring.
Gestation: 11 to 13 months
Numbers of young: 1
Habit: Sociable, lives in small free ranging herds
Diet: Ground vegetation; leafy grasses, herbs, and plants
Call: Ranges from a soft whinny to a shrill piercing cry
Life span: 20 to 25 years
Related Species: Two related species of
feral horse the Merens, in the area bordering the Atiege River west of
the Camargue, and the primitive Potiok of the Basque region.
Distribution: Found wild only in the marshy swamplands of the Rhone Delta in Providence, southeastern France.
Conservation: The Camargue's numbers are controlled by owners in France, assisted by the Central state Administration, to guarantee survival of the breed through selective breeding
Features of Camargue Horse::
The Camargue is one of more than 200 different breeds of horse and pony. Superficially similar, horses of different breeds can be recognized by noting certain characteristics. Particular combinations of these characteristics determine the breed.
Short neck and back, Rough, gray coat, becomes white with age, powerful hindquarters, bushy tail, strong legs, full mane, short ears, large head, large eyes, flat face, stocky build, average height to withers (the highest point of the horses back) 13.3 hands.
Did you know?
The only truly wild horses today is the Mongolian wild horse, or Prezewalski's horse, which lives in small number in Central Asia. All others are feral; that is, they are descendants of once domesticated horses.
There are approximately 30 separate herds of Camargue horses in existence today.
One year of a horse life is roughly equal to three years for a person.
Any horse shorter than 14.2 hands is considered a pony. One exception, is the miniature horse, the South American Fatabella, which is only about seven hands high.
Although it is an ancient species, the Camargue horse was not officially recognized as a breed until 1967.