- Murghese -

   The Murghese, also known as the Murge Horse, originated in the Murge region of Southeast Italy, and dates back to the time of Spanish rulers. There is some mystery surrounding the exact heritage of the Murghese, but it is likely that the breed evolved through a combination of Neopolitan, Barb, and Arabian stock, with some infusion of Avelignese, and possibly Italian Heavy Draft blood. The breed has had a rather checkered history, becoming extremely popular during the 15th and 16th centuries, especially for use by the cavalry, but then falling into a decline and becoming virtually extinct. The modern Murghese was established during the 1920s and quite possibly has evolved as a more refined type than the original Murghese.

Until 1926 there was quite a diversity of physical characteristics within the breed, due to a lack of any special programs. However, 1926 saw the beginnings of selective breeding at what is now known as the Regional Institute for Equine increase. The three foundation sires used were Nerone, Granduca, and Araldo delle Murge, which formed the principal three bloodlines. The Murghese is a versatile, light draft and riding horse which was and still is a popular farm horse because it is able to carry out the principal chores around a smallholding.

They have a willing and lively temperament and are tough and hardy. Many Murghese horses are raised in a semi wild state in the forests of Murge, living out all year round and foraging for themselves. This has made them extremely enduring and seemingly resistant to many equine diseases. They are becoming increasingly popular as riding horses, and are suitable for trekking and novices, due to their calm and forgiving nature. They are often used as a base to breed better riding stock by crossing with Thoroughbreds or similar quality breeds.

In appearance, they tend to have a Roman nose, with a prominent jaw line and small ears. The neck is muscular with a full mane, the chest broad and deep, the shoulder sloping, the back short and occasionally hollow, and the quarters sloping and sometimes underdeveloped. Their legs can be light of bone, with the joints often small, although they are strong. Generally black in color, they stand between 15 and 16 hh.

 

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