VIDEO. Aude: how Azur the draft horse was saved from slaughter

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It starts as a Christmas story. While Azur, a 13-year-old draft horse, was destined for the slaughterhouse, he was spared thanks to the brothers Fabre, Nicolas and Bastien, winegrowers in Barbaira.

A message posted on social networks last March reported the sale of a draft horse near Condom in the Gers. Neither one nor two Bastien went to this agricultural service provider who could no longer use Azur as he would like. The animal, which suffered from osteoarthritis of the front legs, suffered from leather dermatitis and had lost the hair under the belly and hindquarters, was destined for the slaughterhouse.
When the animal was returned to Barbaira, the two brothers undertook to put it back on its feet with the help of several medicines and the help of a farrier.

For the past few months, Azur has been tilling the soil in the vines at the foot of Alaric. Bastien says: “We have old Carignan vines whose row spacing is too narrow (1.75m) for today’s tractors. We went back 60 years with tillage carried out by a 900 kg draft horse. To my knowledge, we are the only ones who have rehabilitated this type of plowing in the department. This Breton-bred gelding, with a chestnut coat, is a docile horse that already knows how to work, which makes many things easier”.

In addition to this return to the past, Nicolas sees several advantages in it. “With modern tractors that weigh more than three tonnes, we are witnessing a compaction of the soil. Thanks to this type of ploughing, we preserve them and ensure their biodiversity, restructure them by fighting various diseases and reduce the CO2 footprint of our completely organic farming,” he explains. Azur is certainly spared his health problems as he only works 3 hours a day at most. This makes it possible to plow 6 to 7 hectares annually. Eventually, Nicolas and Bastien plan to enlist two other horses to cover the entire 21-hectare property.

Demonstrations from Monday

Azur should secure another 7 to 8 more years and die a beautiful death at the age of 25 like most of its congeners. Nicolas and Bastien have also planned to ride a horse-drawn carriage later, another great activity for this type of horse, where they will seek support from the tourist offices of Carcassonne and Carcassonne Agglo. Also thanks to this ploughing, diversification into horticulture and aromatic plants is foreseen in the long term.

To popularize this type of ancestral plowing combined with current skills acquired over time, the Fabre brothers have scheduled demonstrations every day this week leading up to Christmas. Starting Monday from 11:00 a.m. to noon, they welcome the public to watch Azur at work in the middle of the vines. An aperitif winemaker will follow with a tasting of the estate’s wines in the cellar opposite the winery at 59, route de Narbonne (at the exit from the village of Barbaira in the direction of Capendu). An educational and friendly moment a few days before the year-end party.

Information on 06 87 03 83 61.

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