Nobody knows exactly where the Etruscan people came from, nor their horses. Theories exist they were African or perhaps Turkish.
What we know is that the Etruscan’s bred a superb chariot horse that excelled in competitions and was admired by Roman legions. The Etruscan horses that grazed along the Tuscan coastline over two thousand years ago were the ancestors of today’s Maremmano horse.
The Maremmano horse is symbolic of Tuscany’s cowboy history.
A powerful horse that is widely known for its resistance and character; not at odds with that of his traditional rider the Buttero, the Maremmano was influenced with fresh blood throughout the centuries and has survived wars, famine and occupation.
In the 16th century, the papal state and the Grand Duke of Tuscany took a particular interest in the breeding of the Maremmano horse. Whilst the latter preferred light horses with Andalusian, Neapolitan or oriental characteristics; the former preferred a larger, robust horse suitable for pulling carriages.
These horses eventually became known as the Tuscan Maremmano and the Roman (Lazio) Maremmano.
Before the 1800s, these horses were highly prized throughout Europe as riding and carriage mounts. Malaria hit the region hard in the early 1800s which caused a rise in brigand crime in the Maremma wetland, then there the Savoy revolution started trying to breed the native out of the native Italian horse.
In the early 1900‘s two important studs closed down and the broodmares were bred to stallions without forethought. The Maremmano was mixed with local breeds and Spanish horses, Thoroughbreds, and even Arabians. The Maremmano fell from grace among international enthusiasts, who declared that it should no longer be classified an Italian horse.
After serving Italy in both world wars as cavalry mounts, the Maremmano breed was decimated. Luckily breeders in Tuscany and Lazio established a formal breed association and stud book.
In the breed’s most recent history, four stallions were used as foundation sires and all Maremmano horses in today’s stud book go back to one of these lines.
These stallions are: Ingres, Aiace, Othello and Ussero
The influence of the thoroughbred is noticeable in many of the sportier types of Maremmano horse and the breed is almost always bay.
Broodmares may be chestnut, but colts that are not bay are cut from the breeding program.
These are tough horses, bred in large herds in one of Tuscany’s wildest landscapes. Even with the infusion of anglo breeds, these are still working horses with an innate cow sense.
They are extremely resistant to harsh climates and long days in the saddle and have a powerful personality that riders either adore or clash with.