The Mérens Horse - black prince of the Pyrenees

cheval merensThis small, black horse is native to the Ariège Pyrenees, having the name of a village in the high mountains close to Andorra. Paintings of horses strikingly similar to the Mérens are found on the walls of the cave at Niaux. Gentle, hardy and economical, the Mérens horse has long been a companion to the "Montagnol" (mountain farmer) and the soldier, notably with the armies of the Count of Foix Gaston Phoebus in the Middle Ages, and later Napoleon during the Russian campaign.

More recently, the Mérens horse has been used for work in the fields, ploughing and hauling. His suppleness and surefootedness allow him to work well on the steep hillsides.

For leisure activities he is equally at ease in the harness or with a rider. His gentle disposition makes him a favorite with children.

 

Character

In all these activities our little black horse shows himself to be generous and devoted to his master, providing he has been well taught. As with all ponies he has a strong character, and one must be firm to make him work.

In Ariège, most of the breeders raise the horses in the open air year-round. The foals are born in the spring snow, and there are rarely any problems. In June the herd is led up to the summer pastures to spend several months in total freedom in the high mountains. This life with the herd gives the Mérens horse the mental balance for which he is known.

The Mérens horse is increasing in popularity and is exported to Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Tunisia. In 1997 the association SHERPA, which promotes the race, made a gift of a young Mérens to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who vacationed in Ariège for many years.

While Mérens horses are increasingly bred in other regions of France and even other countries, an authentic Mérens is one who has run free in the high Pyrenees like his ancestors thousands of years ago.

Many thanks to these photographers

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