"Horses of the Camargue", by Stephanie Hogue

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Have you ever been to a place that really touches your soul? The certain smell in the air, the views passing by your window on the train, bus or car as you make your journey to your destination. All familiar but also completely new?  You feel so alive in that moment that you want to hold onto it forever. You never know where or when, but some special places become a part of you and their memory, embedded in your soul.

This trip to the Camargue was one of those trips. I had been to France before, I fell in love with the South of France in my early twenties and have bee dreaming of coming back for years so the familiar feeling was't really surprising. 

The place... Camargue, France

With an area of over 930 km2 (360 sq mi), the Camargue is western Europe's largest river delta. It is a vast plain comprising large brine lagoons or étangs, cut off from the sea by sandbars and encircled by reed-covered marshes. These are in turn surrounded by a large cultivated area. Approximately a third of the Camargue is either lakes or marshland. The central area around the shoreline has been protected as a regional park since 1927, in recognition of its great importance as a haven for wild birds. In 2008, it was incorporated into the larger Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue.

Booksworm, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The history...

These Camargue horses live and roam semi-free in the marshlands where they have existed since prehistoric times and are one of the oldest breeds in the world.  They are managed by “Guardians”,  Camargue cowboys, who care for them and manage their breeding.  They are a lively, agile and sturdy horse, while also being level headed with great endurance which makes them a great horse for herding and work. Most are left to roam free, but the guardians use some for their work raising and herding the Camargue bulls used for bullfighting in France and Spain. Guardian families go back generations and the horse culture is very distinctive in the area.

A guardian at work in the Camargue.

A 20th-century "gardian" home. The pole is used to climb up and oversee the animals

More to explore...

Flamingos in the Bird Refuge.

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White Horses Fine Art Photograph