The Camargue horse is an ancient breed of horse indigenous to the Camargue area in southern France. For centuries, possibly thousands of years, these small horses have lived wild in the harsh environment of the Camargue marshes and wetlands of the Rhone delta. There they developed the stamina, hardiness and agility for which they are known today. The Camargue horse is the traditional mount of the gardians, the Camargue “cowboys” who herd the black Camargue bulls used in bullfighting in southern France. Camargue horses galloping through water is a popular and romantic image of the region.
Some researchers believe the Camargue are descended from the ancient Solutré horse hunted during the Upper Paleolithic period. Extensive archeological evidence has been found in the present-day Burgundy region of France. The Camargue breed was appreciated by the Celtic and Roman invaders who entered the Iberian Peninsula.
Their genealogy is closely tied with Iberian horses, especially those of the northern part of the peninsula. The original Spanish jaca was probably a cross between the Celtic pony and the Camargue. It was later improved by crosses with northern European horse types and ultimately with the southern peninsular horse, as the Moors spread their influence toward the Pyrenees.