| Distinguishing features:
|| Ancient, small pony breed native to French Pyrenees
| Country of origin:
The tough, small Basque Pony has roamed in a feral state for centuries in France. In modern times, it has adapted to domestic life and be a good riding 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 their adult size when only 1 to 2 years old.
In the early 20th 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 Basque Pony has a small body and a large head, which has a basically rectangular profile with a slight depression at the level of the eyes. The ears are short, and the eyes small and lively. The neck is short, with a thick mane. The back is long. The legs are strong and the feet are small and hard. They usually stand between 11.2 and 13 hands high and come in all colours.