A short on French Saddle Ponies

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Some interesting French ponies, for your reading pleasure:

The Ariegeois Pony (1) is an ancient French breed, also known as the Cheval de Merens, and it comes from the Ariege River area of the Eastern Pyrenees Mountains.

Its style has not changed over the centuries and cave paintings in the region show a small, similar animal.

The Ariegeois Pony is a hardy mountain pony, is at home in the snow and ice, but does not do well in the summer heat.

Traditionally it was used as a pack animal and smugglers in particular liked it while plying their trade in the mountains between Spain and France.

It was also used in mines and on local farms in the hills.

The Ariegeois Pony usually goes unshod, even in rough mountainous terrain.

The coat is pure black, with no white markings, although some rust-colored highlights can appear in winter.

It is considered a Coldblood, coming in at 13.1HH to 14.3HH.

Its temperament is amiable and easy-going, and has an attractive head on a short muscular neck.

The body is stocky, with a deep chest, low-set tail and thick forelock and mane.

Since the disposition is nice, it is now used for riding, also.

The Landais Pony (2) is also a very old French breed, dating back to the 8th Century.

It has been heavily influenced by other breeds, such as the Bard, Welsh and Arabian.

Named for the forested Landes region in southwest France, it originated there, along with a similar breed.

The bigger and heavier horse was called the Barthais, but at some point it appears that the two breeds merged, with the result being the smaller, finer Landais Pony.

Originally used for light draft work or as a pack animal, and although it was lightly built, it was very hardy and strong.

Later, it was used in the development of the French Saddle Pony and is now used as a child’s pony due to its kind, quiet and intelligent nature.

The Landais Pony is on the verge of extinction, with very few left.

There are efforts underway to preserve the breed.

They are considered Warmblood, coming in at 11.3HH to 13.1HH

Its temperament is usually easy-going, but it can be willful or strong.

It has a small head with broad forehead, muscular neck and a straight profile.

Colors are black, chestnut, brown and bay and they both ride and drive.

That’s all for this week, folks.

Make hay while the sun shines.

Leaving you in whatever current weather condition that happens to be outside your window right now, to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1, 2: “Pocket Guide to Ponies,” by Corinne Clark