When the Etruscans first populated Lazio, they arrived with horses. Horses played an important role for the Ancients and remains recovered from settlements in the area alludes to their place as elite animals used for racing, war and leisure.
The Tolfetano horse was raised in the mountainous area of Tolfa between Viterbo and the northern provinces of Rome. Horses have been raised in this region since the Etruscan times and are mentioned in many historical texts over the centuries. The early horses resembled the Iranian Caspian horse. Pony sized, with the proportions of a fine horse. They were later mixed with larger breeds such as the Barb, Spanish and Neapolitan to create a larger horse suitable for both warfare and farming tasks.
The horses adapted to the rocky, arid terrain and, the result is a solid working horse that the local cowboys are proud of. Standing between 14hh and 15hh; the Tolfetano almost went extinct during the middle of last century, when the industrialization of the Italian countryside resulted in many farmers simply turning their horses loose and abandoning them.
The last horses found themselves grouped into small herds wandering the mountains of Tolfa. There they roamed free until 1994 when a group of breeders and enthusiasts gathered them up and created a formal breed standard for them.
The temperament is lively and willing. They have a spark to them and are excellent working equitation and trail horses.
Usually dark bay, the registry also allows light bay and brown,, they are extremely resistant to harsh climates and a lack of quality pasture.
Confirmation wise, the head is proportionate to the body, and the neck is short. The mane is thick and long, while the wither is muscled.
They have a small chest but well-formed hind quarters and the legs are strong with good hooves. The appearance is that of a workhorse with a friendly, intelligent expression and a rugged determination in their enormous eyes.