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basque pony

This ancient breed, which exhibits a number of primitive features, still roams free in the mountains of the Pyrenees and Atlantic cantons of France. Basque ponies have owners, and they are rounded up periodically, traditionally on the last wednesday of january, to be branded and released again or sold at the local markets. To live in these hilly, spartan regions, Basque ponies must be tough. Survival of foals is aided by rapid growth to maturity: they reach theur adult size when only 1 to 2 years old. Earlier last century, these small ponies were used in French and British mines as pit ponies. Today, they are in demand as children's ponies because they adapt well to domestication. To improve them for this latter purpose, some have had Arab and Welsh Pony blood added. But the French are taking steps to safeguard the continued purity of this ancient breed, which now numbers between 2,500 and 3,000 purebred Basque ponies.

The tough, small Basque has roamed wild for centuries in France. But it has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to a domestic life and be a good riding pony.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Basque Pony".