The meter and a half in height does not reach it, on average, the Bardigiano horse which due to its small size is often also called Pony. This breed is Italian and takes its name from a town, Bardi, located in the province of Parma, on the Tuscan-Emilian-Ligurian Apennines. Born in the mountains this horse is used to living in this environment and we can still find some herds living in a semi-wild state, while other specimens are on farms, since it is a useful and trainable animal. Today there are about 3,000 Bardigiani horses registered in the Herd book.
Bardigiano horse: origins
This breed was born and was rocked by the Ceno valley, in Bardi, and has characteristics that recall other horses from which to hypothesize its origins. For example, it has the appearance of the Asturian Pony and the Exmoor, both breeds deriving from Celtic ponies. Some think that these animals are his ancestors but there are also other theories that are good to know.
In fact, there are those who trace its origin back toRoman times, when animals were imported from Belgian Gaul that would have been destined for cavalry and the transport of materials and among these there would have been some ancestors of our Bardigiano. Other sources still support the umpteenth theory that affirms how Bardigiano arrived on the Apennines later, around the fifth century, after the fall ofWestern Roman Empire, following the Frankish warriors, who took him through Liguria. The current breed would be the result of crossing with other local horses.
Over time there were other changes to the breed, for example between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries some local nobles tried to change the appearance of the breed, to make them more refined, through the crossing with Friulian stallions. In the following centuries the horses were bred by local farmers who kept them in the wild.
Let's make a time jump forward until the second postwar period when the Bardigiano a moment of heavy crisis passed, risking extinction but the breed was saved by the state by crossing it with Haflinger and Franches-Montagnes stallions.
It would not have been a virtuous rescue because these breeds would have “dirtied” that of the Bardigiano, the local breeders realized that they managed to oppose it, clandestinely mating their mares with native stallions. It was thanks to this rebellious act that today we can still admire this equine breed with its real characteristics.
In the following years, a new selection and recovery program was launched by the Mountain Community of the Parma Apennines in collaboration with the Provincial Breeders Association, which in 1977 came to establish the Herd Book of the Bardigiano Horse (LG), through a specific Ministerial Decree. The same year, the National Exhibition of Bardigiano made its debut, which since then continues to repeat itself in Bardi (PR), every first weekend of August.
Bardigiano horse: characteristics
Average height at the withers, 145 cm (Height at the withers: - Males: 140–149 cm - Females: 135–147 cm), this horse can show off a decidedly robust physique, perfect for facing a mountain life, with many slopes to go down and up, even inaccessible. Its head harmonizes well with the rest of the body and has a broad forehead, also typical of ponies, but with a tapered muzzle with a slightly snub profile (inherited from the Arab).
The ears stick out even if they are small and mobile, the nostrils are small and have gods very long breathing channels, this feature is linked to the mountain nature of the breed because in this way when the air passes and has time to warm up before entering the lungs. The neck is short and muscular and has a very thick mane, the shoulders are strong and straight and the chest is broad.
It is no coincidence that this horse was used to carry the pack because it has one strong back and also long that seems made for that. The quarters are round and muscular, the tail is bushy and low set while the legs are short and well placed and have well pronounced joints and strong and elastic tendons. The hooves are quite wide and have a rounded shape, they are also solid and seem made for climbing difficult mountain paths. As for the coat colors, we find bay, dark bay or blackberry specimens.
Rather recently they have been revised by breeders i selection criteria, starting to prefer the specimens with the lightest structure and the most elegant shapes. To obtain horses with these characteristics, crosses were made with Bardarab stallions that introduce a low percentage of Arab blood into the breed which helps to improve the physical structure and make the gait more elastic.
Bardigiano horse: character
As we can imagine, in addition to the mountain physique, the Bardigiano also has a mountain character so it is a sweet and obedient horse but not particularly expansive, but who never gets scared in the face of fatigue, cold and bad weather. IS' determined and courageous.
Bardigiano horse: attitudes
Indefatigable as only he and a few other horses can be, the Bardigiano in history has been used very often both as a pack horse and as a draft horse. Today it is no longer widely used in this sense but with the latest morphological developments, an animal has been obtained that can be well used for walks inhorse farm, especially in the most mountainous or inaccessible areas. At times it is also used as a light draft horse and taking advantage of its sweet and willing character, it is also used for hippotherapy or to teach horse riding.
Bardigiano horse: breeding
In Italy we can find several Bardigiano farms, in its area of origin but not only. One of them is “Bardigiani di San Bartolo”, but you can find several suggestions online. There are also farms outside Italy, for example in Germany and Hungary.
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