6 September 2023

A Special Breed of Horse – The Camargue

A Special Breed of Horse – The Camargue

By Phillipa

We’ll be publishing an occasional series looking at various breeds of horses, their attributes and characteristics.

To begin with, we’re looking at the Camargue.

Originating in Southern France, these grey horses live among the wetlands of the Rhone Delta.

Usually reaching about thirteen to fourteen hands at adulthood, they have developed a toughness that allows them to thrive within the harsh conditions they inhabit.

At birth, Camargues are dark brown or black. Their coats gradually change to give a white appearance and this process is usually complete by the time they are around four to five years old.

In France, although it is now a dying ‘trade’, the horses are ridden by a type of cowboy, known as a ‘gardian’ and are used for herding cattle. Because of the distances they have to travel and the many hours each day they spend at work, they have a reputation for being superb endurance horses. I have heard them referred to as being the type of horses who have a solid ‘leg in each corner.’

I have had the pleasure of riding several of these horses here in the UK, and loaned a part Camargue for six months which gave me an appreciation for all that the breed has to offer. I am quite passionate about them.

To me, they are loyal, hardworking animals and they can turn their hand to anything. Their versatility makes them a joy to ride, and they seem to be able to handle just about anything asked of them. In fact, I believe they are rather intelligent and relish a challenge. I have ridden them both English and Western style and found them equally competent at both.

They are friendly and easy to work with in general, being as co-operative on the ground as they are under saddle. Of course, like any breed and like any species, they each have their individual characters but really are not difficult to form a bond with.

One of the things I love about them however is that despite being loyal and affectionate, I have found them to be just a little aloof. It’s as if they know they are doing you a huge favour getting close to them, riding them and forming a bond (which let’s face it, they are) but there is always something they are keeping back. A secret they know which you will never discover, no matter how often you gaze into those intelligent eyes and enjoy that moment of being close to them, hearing their gentle breath and watching those ears are they swivel like radar, picking up on the world about them.

They really are pretty special.

If you would like the chance to ride one of these amazing horses, check out www.valleyfarm.co.uk, based in Suffolk, currently the only recognised Camargue stud in the UK.