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15 Beautiful Italian Horse Breeds (with pictures)

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You love horses, and you love Italy. Now you want to know some Italian horse breeds. Did you know that Italy has some of the world’s most beautiful horses? There are over 25 breeds of horses that originated in Italy. Here in this article, we will show you 15 beautiful breeds that originated from Italy either in part or wholly.

1. Sardinian Anglo-Arab

Anglo-Arab horse

Originating from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, this horse has been selectively bred for more than one hundred years.

Since 1960, the Sardinian Anglo-Arab has been used for sports like eventing and horseracing. The horse was derived from cross-breeding Sardinian horses (that carry Arabian blood) with Thoroughbred horses.

Individuals have colors like chestnut, bay, grey, etc. With a fiery temperament, speed and stamina, the Sardinian Anglo-Arab can cover one hundred kilometers daily for several days.

2. Italian Heavy Draft

Italian heavy draft horse in a field

This breed which is also called “Rapid Heavy Draft” is an Italian draft horse. In its country of origin, it is called Cavallo Agricolo Italiano da Tiro Pesante Rapido, which means “Italian Rapid Heavy Draft Farm Horse”.

Back in 1860 at Deposito Cavalli Stalloni, this breed was derived from crossing native horses with large Belgian horses.

Italian Heavy Drafts are strong and fast. They were originally bred for agricultural uses, as well as military, and in urban settings. Today, they assist farmers in the field, are used for getting large mules, and horse meat.

3. Italian Trotter

Gray Orlov Trotter

Do you love speed? If yes, this breed is for you. In sports like trotting races, the Italian Trotter is a popular choice. Since the 19th century, the development of the Italian Trotter was has been influenced by the Russian Orlov Trotter, French Trotter, and American Standardbred breeds.

The coat of Italian Trotters is available in colors like bay, chestnut, black, etc. Today, Italian Trotters are used for harness racing, trotting races, riding, etc. This breed is lively, willing, and energetic. I am sure that you would love the Italian Trotter.

4. Avelignese or Haflinger

Two Haflinger horses

This breed of horse was developed in northern Italy and Austria in the late 19th century. Developed for use in mountains, the Aveligneses are known to be hardy. This breed almost went extinct after its use in World Wars 1, 2, and the Great Depression.

Haflingers are always chestnut with flaxen tail and mane. They are relatively short horses and were used in wars as packhorses. Today, Hadlingers are still used by German and Austrian armies on rough terrains. Today, they are used for draft work, driving, source of meat, and milk.

5. Bardigiano

I do love this breed. The Bardigiano is a small breed of horse native to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Named after the town of Bardi, Bardigiano is used commonly in the surroundings of Valle del Ceno and Parma areas.

The height of Bardigiano males ranges from 13.3 – 14.3 hands (140-149 cm) while that of females, 13.1 – 14.2 hands (135-147 cm). Their coat color can be bay or dark bay. Bardigianos are used for farm work, riding, and driving. They are also used for pony trekking.

6. Calabrese

The Calabrese is named after the region of Calabria, southern Italy. It has a wide range of uses including riding, pleasure, and sport. Calabrese horses are spirited, friendly, and tough.

Calabreses are black, chestnut, bay, or grey. They have Andalusian, Arabian, and Thoroughbred blood. Calabreses have been developed long before the founding of Rome. Please tell me that you love Calabreses.

7. Monterufolino

This breed originated from the Tuscany region of Italy. According to a few, the Monterufolino was derived from the wild Selvina Breed (which is now extinct). This breed was named after a farm estate, Tenuta di Monterufoli.

The conservation status of this breed is critical with a population of 172 horses in 2008. The Monterufolino has a coat color of black or grey. It is a small breed mostly used by police officers.

8. Pentro horse

The Pentro horse which is called Cavallo Pentro in Italy is a breed that traces its history to the Molise region of Italy. It is named after an ancient tribe, Pentri. With a population of about 50, this breed is threatened.

Pentro horses weigh approximately 875 pounds. What a heavy horse, right? They are 13.1 – 16 hands (134 to 162 cm) tall. Common coat colors include bay, black, chestnut, grey, etc. Today, this warm-blood breed is used for general riding and work.

9. Maremmano

Like the Monterufolino, the Maremmano traces its history to the Tuscany region of Italy. This breed was derived from cross-breeding North African breeds with Barb or Arabian breeds.

In the 19th century, the Maremmano breed was cross-bred with breeds like Norfolk Roadster, Thoroughbred, etc. to get a finer breed.

The Maremmano breed stands 15 – 15.3 hands (152 to 160 cm) tall. It has a coat of bay, brown, chestnut, black, etc. Other colors like roan and gray are seen as well. Maremmanos are draft horses. They are also used as police horses.

10. Catria Horse

The Catria horse which is called Cavallo del Catria in Italy originates from mountainous areas in the Marche region. The Italian Breeders Asociation recognizes the Catria horse as a rare breed. The Catria horse was derived from cross-breeding Maremmano breed with Franches-Montagnes horses.

The coat of Catria horses may be chestnut or bay in color. The height of male Catrias ranges from 14.1 – 15.3 hands (145–160 cm) while that of females (mares), 13.3 – 15.1 hands (140–155 cm). Today, they are used for the production of horse meat, riding, or agricultural purposes like carrying firewood.

11. Persano horse

This warm-blooded breed is a large breed that was created by cross-breeding Turkomans, Arabians, Mecklenburgers, and Andalusians. In the 19th century, Persano horses were bred for military uses.

With an average height of 17 hands (172 cm), Persano horses are considered large breeds. They have different coat colors but the popular colors seen are brown, black, bay, etc. Today, they are used for sports like jumping, mounted athletics, racing, etc. They are also used for work and general riding.

12. Cavallo Romano della Maremma Laziale

What a long name, right? The name of this breed, Cavallo Romano della Maremma Laziale, when translated to English, means “Roman horse of the part of the Maremma that is in Lazio”. Though it is an ancient breed, it was only recognized in 2010. The Cavallo Romano della Maremma Laziale has a population of about 800.

The Cavallo Romano della Maremma Laziale may be chestnut, grey, bay, or black. The height of males ranges from 15.1 – 16.1 hands (155–165 cm), while that of mares, 150–162 cm. In the past, Cavallo Romano della Maremma Laziale horses were used as warhorses, carriage horses, or working horses. Today, they still being used as working horses (especially management of livestock), saddle horses, and production of quality meat and milk.

13. Giara Horse

The Giara horse or Cavallino della Giara (Italian) is a breed native to the island of Sardinia. Though having an uncertain history, it has some characteristics of Asian horses like the Barb breed. The Giara horse is a small breed of horse with height ranges from 11.1 to 13.1 hands (114 to 135 cm).

If you love small breeds with mane, the Giara is for you because it has an abundant mane and forelock. Giara horses mostly have chestnut, black, or bay coats. Today, Giara horses help farmers in the field. They are also used for riding.

14. Murgese

This beautiful breed of horse was derived by cross-breeding Arabian horses and the Barb breed during the Spanish rule. It originates from Murge in the Apulia area of Italy. During the 15th and 16th centuries, this breed was very popular in Italy.

The height of the Murgese is 14 – 15 hands (142 to 152 cm), with a coat color of black or blue roan. The Murgese is generally used for cross-country riding, farm work, and light draft work. Murgese horses are hardy and resistant to a lot of diseases.

15. Purosangue Orientale

The Purosangue Orientale or “Oriental Purebred” is an energetic breed developed in 1864 by cross-breeding Sicilian horses and the Arabian horse. Today, there are about one hundred and fifty individuals.

This beautiful breed is 14 – 15 hands (143 to 153 cm) tall. Common coat colors are grey, bay, or chestnut. The Oriental Purebred is used today racing and general riding.

Other Italian Horse Breeds

Do you want more Italian horse breeds? Here are more:

  • Noriker
  • Lipizzans
  • Tolfetanos
  • Salernitano
  • Sella Italiano
  • Sanfratellano
  • Esperia Ponies
  • Samolaco horse
  • Neapolitan horse
  • Siciliano indigenos

Final Thoughts

Over 25 breeds of horses trace their ancestry to Italy. While they are all beautiful, some are small, others are tall. Some are well-developed for racing, other breeds for other purposes.

Which of the horse breeds listed above is your favorite Italian breed? Share your thoughts in the comment section.