Friday, October 16, 2015

The (not so) wild horses of the Camargue




It was one of those moments. Provence is still unveiling them, dropping them into my palm like stones in an ever-widening pond. Even after all these years...



Remi and I had already had a great afternoon in the Camargue, one where we were finally able to push past the tourist tainted scenery into something that made our hearts sing with excitement and feel as if we were both travelers again.


It was a day of business and pleasure with the former rounding out the last of the afternoon light. 


But it was not quite over, no, not yet for as we turned towards north towards Arles...


...we were dumbfounded to find a herd of the horses of the Camargue, the wild horses of the Camargue, gathered right by the side of the road. We pulled over and approached quietly, not wishing to disturb the sleep of those that leant towards each other, nostrils turned away from the saline sea winds.


They have been in the region for as long as man, possibly since the Paleolithic period. It is believed that they were cherished by the Romans and indeed Remi told me that Julius Caesar's cavalry was composed of not Italian but rather French (then German) riders. Why not think then that he was fond of this sturdy strong breed? It is known that later kings of France would forcibly take riders and these steeds and haul them into combat. The Brotherhood of the Gardians was formed over 500 years ago to end that practice and  yet the riders are still practicing their skills today as France's cowboys in herding the wild bulls that also roam this delta - half-sea, half-land.


But there were no sun-worn ranch-hands about, just these stately figures on an open plain. They let us observe them and most likely could sense our admiration; these creatures so ancient that they could nearly be ghosts from another time, were it not for their cut short snorts and rippled muscles moving under their white coats covering deep black skins. 

In the ten years that we have lived in Provence, we have never seen them at such a proximity. Eventually they turned tail and waded out into the marshes and left us grinning, gifted. Thank you la Provence, merci la Camargue, au revoir les chevaux...


Have a wonderful weekend everyone. I hope that you have a few fine surprises of the good kind and enjoy these days either turning towards fall or spring...

28 comments:

Karena Albert said...

Heather these are truly magical moments to cherish! I thank you for sharing with us!!
Have a wondrous weekend!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

Judith Ross said...

Wow! And you did an amazing job of capturing these beauties. Bravo! xo

rosie said...

Heather, the photos are beyond beautiful. Made my day. Thank you so much.

robin said...

Wow!!!! What a gift - I can't believe it! They are so beautiful, and I enjoyed reading their history. It is clear that they trusted you and Remi, for they do have that sleepy quality - not an "on guard/watch out!" vibe. The photos are so wonderful - the first one is UH-MAY-ZING - their faces together are heart-shaped! And I think the fact that you have some experience with horses shows in these photos and maybe helps explain why they were so calm around you (and your experienced-aroung-wild-animals boyfriend). Congratulations - we are so happy to experience this through your beautiful photos and words!

Maywyn Studio said...

How exciting! Your beautiful pictures say so much of their personality.
Its amazing how well groomed they are all on their own. Thank you for sharing your experience

Trudye said...

Yes, gifted you and Remi were/are! It is almost as if they were waiting for you so that they could say their goodbyes and make sure you did not forget your time in the enchanting land of the Camargue!
We, are gifted by your beautiful words and photos,Heather! Thank you for sharing this special time with us! xx

D A Wolf said...

Your words and images are gorgeous. What an astonishing experience! Magnificent animals, your not-so-wild horses.

xo

Jackie Clark Mancuso said...

Heather, these are stunning images. You are so talented. I recently saw the film White Mane. Have you seen it?

Tracy Wood said...

It has always been a dream of mine to see these horses, such magnificent creatures. One day, I hope I shall..
xx

La Contessa said...

NO surprise to me they did not run!They know a GORGEOUS RED HEAD when they see one!You were NOT a threat to their gorgeous BLONDE MANES!
What a WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!
XO

Joan McKniff said...

merci

RebeccaNYC said...

This is something I have always wanted to see!!! Thank you so much for seeing it for me! xo

bonnie poppe said...

Aren't they just perfect there? I read that they are probably related to the horses depicted in the caves at Lascaus and nearby. A very ancient breed. I took a two hour guided tour of the Camargue marshes on one of them, with a guide from the equivalent of the state park. I asked for the smallest oldest one, as I am a very poor rider -- I can fall off even before I get on! It was quite memorable, and staggering back to my car I remembered why I don't often ride a horse .....
bonnie

bonnie poppe said...

Reading this I see that it sounds like I asked for the oldest smallest guide! No! Horse, horse .....

Lisa Southard said...

A little more elegant than our Dartmoor ponies! Beautiful encounter Heather :-)

Loree said...

That was an awesome encounter. The horses look so majestic. I know I would have loved to touch them but I also know they would have shied away if I tried.

simpleimages2 said...

The pleasure of an afternoon gathering together the lovable horses with their “ancient" graceful movements and playful innocence. A gift to you, from you to us.

Thank you Heather.


Sandy said...

What a unique experience! Look how beautfully you tool advantage of it. Stunning photos you will treasure for years.

sandra sallin apartfrommyart.com

Stephen Andrew said...

Spectacular photos! They truly convey what it's like to talk to a horse. No I'm not drunk and yes I meant to write that. I think you'll know what I mean.

Jeanne Henriques said...

I loved this journey with you Heather...breathtaking. Loved this too...." But there were no sun-worn ranch-hands about, just these stately figures on an open plain. They let us observe them and most likely could sense our admiration; these creatures so ancient that they could nearly be ghosts from another time, were it not for their cut short snorts and rippled muscles moving under their white coats covering deep black skins." xx

Heather Robinson said...

I am very glad to hear that Rosie. :)

Heather Robinson said...

I knew you would see that heart, Sister! Thank you for all of your kind words here and always...love you...

Heather Robinson said...

I have seen clips from it, Jackie. I need to see the whole thing! Especially as it is a short film, isn't it?

Heather Robinson said...

De rien.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh Bonnie, you really made me giggle. Thank you, I needed that...

Heather Robinson said...

Always happy to share my toys in the sandbox, Edgar. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Of course I do. But they were sleeping. We let them be. I loved having horses out at our small farm. Did you ever drive by to see it? I am curious if it is still there but am afraid to google earth it in case there is a McMansion in its stead...

Heather Robinson said...

Thanks beautiful Jeanne. I have some catching up that I need to do chez toi...