This small French breed comes from the Pyrenees in the south-west of France,
where the Ariege River runs in the high valley. The breed closely resembles
the horses of southern Gaul described by Julius Caesar in his commentaries
of the Gallic Wars. It stands at between 13.1 and 14.3. h.h. and was
originally used for a pack animal. Today it serves as a riding horse and is
used in agriculture to work the steepest of farmland that is out of reach
for modern machinery. It is hardy and sure-footed, ice covered mountain
tracks do not deter this nimble little horse. Capable of enduring extreme
cold weather, it is not so well adapted to the heat.
The Ariegeois is solid black in colour, with a reddish tint in the winter.
It has a medium size head with a straight profile and kind eyes, smallish
fluffy ears; a short straight neck; fairly straight shoulders; a broad
chest; a strong though rather long back; strong round quarters with a
sloping croup and rather low set tail; short, light boned limbs with good
strong hooves. The main and tail are course and thick offering plenty of
protection against the elements, though the coat is soft and fine. The
Ariegeois is usually a willing horse with very active paces.