On Saturday, the 22 of September, I traveled to Dronero in the Valle Maira of Cuneo province, Italy, to see the Mérens breed show. I rose very early in the morning, and it was over two hours drive up to Valle Maira. I didn’t want to miss the first class of young stud colts. Yes, I was excited to see the show, especially the in-hand evaluation classes of the young stud colts and fillies.
The Mérens horse is a French breed and it originates in the Ariège region of the French Pyrénées, and it is the French who control the official breed registry. However, a foreign breed register also exists in Cuneo province of Italy–though must follow the French standard.
And each year the Italian registry organizes a show and conducts evaluation of all the Mérens horses bred in Italy. This annual event always takes place in Cuneo province. The jury overseeing the breed standard evaluation process is comprised of 50 percent French- and 50 percent Italian officials. Young horses, male and female, are judged on conformation, gait, disposition, and other characteristics.
A lot of work goes into preparing the horses for the presentations. For instance, I saw this woman patiently and skillfully braiding the mane of this Mérens horse.
The young horses, colts and fillies are shown in hand, and the categories are as follows: stud colts one, two and three years of age; and fillies one, two and three years of age. Most of Saturday was devoted to the in-hand classes presenting the young horses. Sunday was mostly riding exhibition, but also the presentation of the winners in each in-hand colt and filly category.
Also, there were two additional classes: (1) mares up to eight years of age with foals at side, and (2) mares over the age of eight with foals at side.
Mérens horses were also presented pulling carriages. How beautiful to see this. Yes, they are quite strong. Alrready back in the Middle Ages they were used to work and pull heavy loads. So, these horses are great for both riding and for pulling carriages. Most of all they are superb mountain trekking horses. And this is something I will be doing some day, over the Pyrénées!
Children just love these horses. All day long the children were petting the horses and giving them bits of hay to nibble on.
And Eurofiocchi was one of the sponsors at the show—they provided prizes to some of the top ranking young horses—colts and fillies—after the evaluations. They offer a nice selection of horse feeds.
It certainly was a wonderful day spent with the beautiful black Mérens horses. I met some lovely people this weekend from France and Italy. And I’m already looking forward to the next show!
I have also made some videos which I will be posting shortly.
By Karin Susan Fester, copyright (c) 2012