Murgese horse breed information
Head is one of the elements that stands out immediately because it gives a sense of solidity, while not being excessively large or heavy. It is held well, is well supported and there is a certain amount of variability as far as profiles are concerned. The forehead is wide and is quite often fully covered by the characteristic flowing forelocks. The nostrils are broad and mobile, the ears well spread apart and regular. Eyes are large, expressive and limpid, which is an indication of a good disposition.
Neck, despite the broad connecting base, is almost always proper and harmonious even in young animals. The mane is abundant and often with a wavy hair.
Trunk is powerful and muscular. The thorax is well developed, high and deep. The chest is broad, the shoulders generally sufficiently sloped. The croup is almost horizontal, broad and well shaped. The tail is firmly attached and has long and abundant hair.
Limbs are solid, with normally well directed arms; long and wide forearms on the average with good muscle development; a well proportioned and muscular thigh, long and straight legs; with an accentuated opening of the hocks such as to determine a croup height greater than that of the withers; rather short and big skin with differentiated and well-developed tendons.
Foot- its qualities are exceptional : its proportions are regular and it is covered with an extremely hard, black horn.
They may be black, gray with black points or brown (a variant on bay).
The Murgese breed generally stands 14 to 15 hands high.
The Murgese usually weighs 340 - 410kg (750 - 900lbs).
The Murgese is an extremely docile animal, and has a vivacious and obedient character. Another important characteristic, is its learning ability.
The Murgese breed originated in Italy during the period of Spanish rule in that country. It is thought that they were developed by crossing Barb and Arabian horses imported by the Count of Conversano with native horse, Neopolitan, Avelignese and Italian Heavy Draft blood. The breed was extremely popular, especially with the Italian cavalry, during the 15th and 16th centuries, but then declined in numbers until it was almost extinct. The present day Murgese breed was developed from horses selected in 1926, when the herdbook was established, and is possibly a more refined version of the original Murgese horse. Until selection began in 1926 there were very diverse physical characteristics within the breed due to lack of breeding regulations. The original horses selected to revitalize the Murgese breed were a group of 46 mares and 9 stallions.
The original center for selective breeding was the Institute for the Improvement of Horse Populations (then known as the Stallion Stud), where three foundation stallions, Nerone, Granduca, and Araldo delle Murge, formed the main bloodlines of the breed today. The Association of Breeders of the Murge Horse and the Donkey of Martina Franca (ANAMF) was founded in 1948 to protect the Murgese breed. In 1990 the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry established the Anagraphic Register to record equine groups identifiable as individual breeds, which included the Murgese. As of 2005, the Murgese population numbers more than 1500 breeding animals, including 1080 mares, 107 stallions and 350 foals. Before registration, all animals are blood typed, and in 2004, an extensive study was performed to analyze the amount of inbreeding present in the Murgese breed and concluded that the amount of inbreeding was within acceptable levels.
Murgese genetic diseases
The Murgese is highly resistant to diseases, so much so that organic disorders, such as heaves and intestinal diseases, are practically non-existent in this breed. It has a robust skeleton and muscles, as well as a tough and thick epidermis, which plays an important role in protection against insect bites and thorny vegetation.
Murgese horses are generally used for trekking and cross-country riding, although they have also traditionally been used for farm work and light draft work. They are still popular on small farms where they are sought for their multi-purpose usefulness. They are often crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce better riding stock.
Murgese interesting facts
In Italy they are used in the police force
L'Allevamento Sant'Angelo di Piccoli, Puglia, Italy
Dott. Francesco Basile, Taranto, Italia
We would like to thank Checco Curci for these lovely images.