Photos and informations about the rare Castillonnais breed, Forgotten Horses a photographic project about endangered equines by The Pixel Nomad


Risk Level: at risk
Local Risk Level: Critical
Listed by DAD-IS
Small horse breed from France

Informations about the Castillonnais

The Castillonais is an ancient breed of small rustic saddle-horse from the Ariège département of south-western France. It may be dark bay or seal brown. It stands 135–155 centimetres at the withers, with an average height of about 145 cm. It is used principally for trekking and for driving.

A rare and endangered breed

Originally bred as a multi-purpose breed used for cavalry, agriculture and driving, the breed declined in population during the 20th century, and almost became extinct. In 1980, a group of supporters began to work to save the breed, and a breed association, now called the Association Nationale du Cheval Castillonnais d’Ariège Pyrénées, was formed in 1992. The breed was officially recognised by the French Ministry of Agriculture in 1996. The French government, breed association and a regional conservation group all now share an interest in the preservation of the breed. Population numbers are still quite low, and inbreeding is a concern.

History of the Castillonnais

Like many other French breeds from the Pyrenees, the Castillonnais probably descends from the horses that inspired the prehistoric cave paintings found, for example, at the Cave of Niaux. Over time, blood from Oriental and Iberian horses was added to the breed and influenced its physical appearance and temperament. In the late nineteenth century, horses of the Pyrenees were known for their use as mounts by light cavalry.


The breed was originally a multi-purpose horse, used for agriculture, cavalry and pulling diligences (a type of carriage). Because of a lack of support from a breeding syndicate, once the need for a multi-purpose breed declined, the population of the Castillonnais dwindled. Many horses were crossbred with draught horses, and the breed almost became extinct. The intervention of a group of supporters in 1980 saved the breed from extinction. 


In 1996, the Castillonnais was officially recognised by the French Ministry of Agriculture, though by that time only 50 purebred mares remained.

Population numbers for the Castillonnais are still quite low. In November 2005, there were only around 260 existing Castillonnais.

Other names of the Castillonnais horse

Cheval de Castillon — Cheval Ariègeois de Castillon — Cheval du Biros — Saint-Gironnais

Native country

France, Pyrenees



Risk Level

Critical: less than 300


L'Association Pyrénéenne Ariégeoise du Cheval Castillonnais

Forgotten horse

Rare and endangered

Free Horse

Kept free roaming in the mountains all year

Explore my Castillonnais Photos


All my pictures of rare and endangered horses can be licensed for private, editorial and commercial usage and ordered as Fine Art Print. The albums only show a part of my large archive. Contact me directly if you don’t find what you are looking for.

Where to find the rare Castillonnais

Here are some places where you can see where you can support the rare and endangered breed. A big thank you to everybody who works with me.

Take part in my project

Castillonnais Photoshooting

Take part in my projects Forgotten Horses and Free Horses and make an impact that matters. By photographing rare and endangered horses we can raise awareness to disappearing horse breeds and preserve equine diversity.

photo archive

Professional photography of Castillonnais

Are you looking for professional photos of rare and endangered horse breeds? You will find a small selection of my pictures in the breed posts, but you may ask for more specific photos directly. All my pictures can be licensed for private, editorial and commercial usage.