The Italian Heavy Draft horse originates
in the northern regions of Italy and is very popular throughout
the country. The breed began with rather experimental beginnings
- native horses were crossed with the Brabant, the Percheron, and
the Boulonnais, with airly unsuccessful results. Finally, the Breton
horse was crossed with Italian mares. This provided the base for
the Italian Heavy Draft.
Their studbook began in 1926, and they
were bred specifically for draft and agricultural purposes, although
they were also used by the Italian military to transport artillery.
They are now also widely bred for the meat industry, which has led
to some deterioration in conformation as breeders concentrate on
producing maximum body mass and weight. They resemble the Breton
quite strongly, but also the Avelignese.
The Italian Heavy Draft typically has
an excellent temperament, as indeed many draft breeds do. They are
quiet and biddable, as well as being economical feeders and easy
to keep, They also mature quickly, which is an advantage both for
the meat market and for working.
In appearance, the Italian Draft is
a highly attractive, cobby-type horse with a quality head for a
horse of its weight. They are of medium size, standing at between
15 and 16 hh, and have a compact, muscular body with well-sprung
ribs and a strong back. The shoulders are generally good and very
powerful, they are deep through the girth and have rounded, muscular
quarters. They tend to have a short neck, which is often very thick
through the jowl, and is thickset and very powerful. The legs can
have rather poor conformation, being light in bone compared to their
size, and having small joints. They also have a tendency toward
boxy feet, which is an undesirable feature. Down the back of the
legs there is some feathering, which is not seen in either the Avelignese
or the Breton.
Their attitude is cob-like, being energetic
and willing, and they have an excellent feast, energetic action,
probably inherited from the swift moving Breton horse. In fact,
their action is so good that they are commonly referred to as Tiro
Pesante Rapido, or Quick Heavy Draft by the local people. Typically
they are a deep chestnut color with a flaxen mane and tail, though
they can also be chestnut or roan.
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