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25 March 2019   
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 Italian Breeds
  Heavy Draught

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Italian Heavy Draught

A heavy breed of horse based on the French Breton, standing at 15 to 16 hh. The Italian Heavy Draught is also known as the Agricultural Heavy Horse as it was once a popular agricultural worker, but now it is mainly raised for the meat trade. It originated during the second half of the nineteenth century at Ferra in the north, but it is now bred throughout central and northern Italy. Originally Neapolitan blood was crossed with Arab and Hackney to produce a lightweight workhorse, but as the need for a heavier agricultural and heavy artillery horse emerged, breeders introduced Boulonnais blood. Later in the 1920s purebred Breton stallions were used to produce an even heavier stamp of horse.

The colour is usually a striking liver chestnut with flaxen mane and tail, though other colours occasionally occur, such as Roan, chestnut and bay. It has a comparatively small head for such a big animal, with a broad forehead, large, bright eyes and small ears; the neck is shortish, thick and slightly arched; the shoulders are strong and sloping; the back and body are short and deep; the hindquarters are round with a fairly high set tail; the limbs are strong with plenty of bone; the feet are large but sometimes boxy. It is an attractive looking horse with active paces and it is capable of pulling heavy loads at speed. Though today it is often bred for meat it may still be seen working on the smaller farms in Italy.

A studbook for the breed was opened in 1961. Horses accepted for registration carry a small brand on the nearside hindquarters, with the breed mark of a five runged ladder with a shield.

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