Castillonnais Horses
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Castillonais (also known as Cheval Ariegeois de Castillon, chevalrndu Biros, or Saint-Gironnais) horses are an ancient breed of small riding horsernfrom the Ariege departement of southwestern France.

rnrnCastillonnais horses originally were bred for cavalry,rnagriculture, and driving. They declined in population during the 20th century,rnand almost became extinct. In 1980, a group of supporters began to work to savernthe breed, and a breed association, now called the Association Nationale durnCheval Castillonnais d'Ariege Pyrenees (ANCCAP), was formed in 1992. The breedrnwas officially recognized by the French Ministry of Agriculture in 1996. ThernFrench government, breed association and a regional conservation group all nowrnshare an interest in the preservation of the breed. Population numbers arernstill quite low, and inbreeding is a concern.rnrn 

rnrnTheir phenotype is currently in flux, but overall theyrnresemble Merens horses. Enthusiasts are breeding for a rustic mountain horse,rnof medium size, with good gaits and good temperament. Some members of the breedrnclosely resemble Iberian horses such as Andalusian horses. The official breedrnstandard calls for a moderately long neck and long, sloped shoulder, broadrnback, rounded croup and muscular legs.

rnrnCastillonnais horses range from 13.1 to 15.1 hands (53 to 61rninches, 135 to 155 cm) high, with the ideal height for mares being 14.1 handsrn(57 inches, 145 cm) and 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) for stallions. Tworncolors are allowed in the breed: dark bay and black, both with pangarernmodification, which results in paler color around the eyes and muzzle and onrnthe underside of the body. Horses of any other color are prohibited from entryrninto the studbook and all horses are genetically tested to officially determinerntheir color before they are allowed into the studbook. The breed is consideredrnto be an easy keeper, with an easygoing temperament. The horses are agile, sure-footedrnon mountain paths, and exhibit extended gaits, with strong engagement of thernhindquarters.

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