The Pottok Pony, an ancient breed, originates in the Basque region of both France and Spain, which extwnds from the Pyrenees Mountain all the way down to the Bay of Biscay. Not much is known about the Pottok Pony, but similar horses have been found in prehistoric cave paintings, proving it may be the descendent of an ancient horse. This horse is thought to be the now extinct Magdalenian horse, though no ne knows for certain.
Centuries of roaming the mountains has caused the breed to develop into a sturdy, sure-footed horse with hardy hooves, strong legs, and plenty of stamina. They are well adapted to the rough, mountainous terrain.
In the 17th century, smugglers used Pottok Ponies to carry goods from France to Spain, and vice versa. Several centuries later, in the 19th and 20th, the ponies were used for a more legal means. They had to haul coal in mines throughout France and Italy.
Up until around 20th century, though, most Pottoks roamed the Pyrenees Mountains without being domesticated. However, cross-breeding and loss of habitat in the 20th century has almost brought the breed to extinction. It was not until 1970, when the Pottok's offical studbook was created, that the Pottok became recognized as a breed by the French administration and people became aware of the breed's plight. At that time, only a couple hundred mares existed.
People living in the area took steps to save the breed by creating a horse reserve in the Pyrenees Mountains, near the village of Bidarray. All the horses on the reserve would have owners, something that contiues to this day. At the end of January of each year, the Pottoks are gathered and branded, with soom being sold and others remaining in the area.
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Breed Description and Uses
Pottok Ponies are proportioned like a small horse rather than a pony. They have a sloping croup, prominent withers, a straight back, and a short, upright neck. Their profile is straight, with small ears and large eyes and nostrils.
Several kinds of Pottok exist: Standard, Piebald, and Double. The Standard is small, standing 11 to 13 hands high, and comes in only solid colors, such as chestnut and bay. The Piebald stands the same height as the Standard, yet comes in a pinto coat. It can either have to colors on its coat(black or chestnut with white) or can have three colors(black, chestnut, and white). Finally, the Double is usually 12.2 to 14.2 hands high and comes in the same coloring as the Standard.
Regardless of type, Pottoks can be used as either a harness horse or an all-round children's pony able to perform various tasks.