The Ariegeois pony, also known as the Merens, is a breed of mountain pony that is noted for being cold hardy and sturdy. It is native to the Pyrenees and Ariegeois mountains of Spain and southern France, where the Ariège River flows. Thought to have originated in prehistoric times, the domesticated pony was used for work in mines and for hauling timber.
This pony is very similar to the English Dales Pony
. It is always black
. White markings
are rare, although there is occasionally white flecking on the flanks. During the winter the breed develops a distinctive reddish cast to their coat. The Ariegeois stands at 13-14.1 hands
high, and weighs 770-1,100 lbs. The breed has a head that is small and refined, a neck that is strong and short, a long back, a solid shoulder, and well-rounded hindquarters.
The origins of the Ariegeois are thought to be remote, and almost certainly influenced by Arabian
bloodlines. The breed is native to the Ariege Pyrenees, and the Merens name comes from a village high in the mountains near Andorra. Cave paintings at Niaux
are strikingly similar to the Ariegeois. The breed was long used by both farmers and soldiers throughout the Middle Ages
and later with Napolean
during his Russian campaign.. Selection for the current breed began in 1908.
In the past Ariegeois were used to haul timber and minerals in southwest France, and today they are used for trekking in mountainous areas.. They are also popular with native Ariegeois farmers for their hardiness and disease resistance.