Another wet day. Went for a tour of Le Haras in Tarbes, a nearby city. Napoleon Bonaparte had 22 stud farms constructed across France to breed Anglo Arab horses for war, though they are now a sport horse. We started with the blacksmith shop. He actually made a horse shoe to show us
There were many horses here at one point but only 40 now, so he has private customers too.
Most horse shoes are now factory made and adjusted to the horse. Few blacksmiths custom make shoes.
This stock looks dangerous but was for trimming and shoeing heavy draft horses. There is a strap which goes under the horse to hold it while it stands on three feet. Otherwise the horses could not support their weight on three legs
Roomy box stalls with an Anglo Arab looking out. You can see that the buildings are in sad repair and needs extensive restoration. But the horses are well cared for. On the right are small turn out areas
A Merens. Shorter and stockier than the Anglo Arab. They are used as police horses for the city
When the National Stud system closed in France in 2003, the Haras at Tarbes was given to the city. This stable was then renovated for the military, because the Hussars still have military horses, primarily for ceremonies now but also competitions
The stalls inside are quite palatial. Oak stalls for the horses and chestnut wood on the ceiling to repel insects. Friendly horses who are used to tourists.
An indoor arena
We had a short show of training liberty horses, those that are free inside an arena and respond to voice commands by the trainer. After the show, we chatted with the trainer, who spoke excellent English and had ridden with Cavalia, the Cirque de Soleil show out of Montreal. She had toured with the show for 3 years and we had actually seen her twice. Small world indeed. And part of the training for the Cavalia horses was done inside this very arena
A website early photo of the Thoroughbred British studs used to breed to an Arabian mare, when the Haras was still producing horses, which were cavalry horses. Now this is completely private.