Camargue Horses

Grace and resilience

There is something magical about the Camargue horse. As the sun sets on a sea-sprayed coastline in southwest France, I’m privileged to spend time with one of the world’s oldest breeds.

The Camargue is a place in France like no other. It is situated on the Rhone delta between Montpellier and Marseille. Teeming with wildlife and home to almost 400 species of birds, including flamingos, it’s an ornithologist’s paradise. On a summer evening in a secluded spot where marsh land transforms into the sea, birds are not the star attraction but the region’s famous ‘horses of the sea’.

Camargue horses swimming in the Mediterranean Sea
Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea

Watching these animals move, they are as graceful as they are resilient. Although not a large breed, standing at around 13-14 hands (52-56 inches) high, these horses are able to survive harsh climatic conditions and can trek over long distances and survive without food for extended periods.

Camargue horses running through marshes
Many Camargue horses live a semi wild existence

The breed is indigenous to France, with only around 2000 in the world, most live in the Camargue. These iconic white horses are technically gray. Born with dark skin, foals have a brown coat which only becomes white when reaching adulthood.

Camargue horses and gardian running through marshes
Horses and gardian

French cowboys or Les Gardians – a professional brotherhood of horsemen, and, increasingly women have looked after them since the 16th century. Many horses are used to herd cattle, most notably the black bulls of the region. Horses are also used for trekking. Visitors can enjoy trail riding through the region.

Camargue horse and gardian
‘Gardian’ originates from the Occitan word ‘gardi besti’ meaning cattle guardian
Camargue horse and female gardian
Even though the gardians way of life becoming more difficult to sustain, there is a younger generation taking part
Camargue horses at sunset
Horses at sunset

It was a pleasure to watch the custodians of these precious animals and great thanks to all involved. Special thanks to Cécile Domens for organising the horses. Cécile can organise private photoshoots and also runs regular workshops throughout the year. Details can be found on her website:

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