Developed in the Maremma region of Tuscany and Lazio in Italy, the Maremmano is a solid built horse developed as a utility work horse on farms. These days with the motorbike taking over much of their role as a work horse they are primarily used as a riding horse. More recently the breed has been cross being crossed with Thoroughbreds to improve their confirmation and speed, this more athletic type sometimes being referred to as an Improved Maremmano rather than a pure Maremmano.
The development of the breed has not been well documented but it is thought that like other breeds developed in the area around this time the founding stock came from Northern Africa which were then crossed with the Iberian Horses from the Spanish Peninsula, the larger Neapolitan to increase size and the Arabian to add refinement. It’s likely that other horses were added to the breeding programme in the eighteen hundreds to improve the breed, obvious influences are the thoroughbred and perhaps the Norfolk Roadster.
Without definitive goals for the breed, the Maremmano breeding programme was initially a little hit and miss. Its type as a half-light/half heavy horse became less desirable as horses became less used in farm work in the late 19th and early twentieth century so during this time more Thoroughbred blood was added to the breeding mix, the results being a lighter, faster more refined type. A more specialised sport horse was born, capable of more impressive, explosive feats but at the sacrifice of the hardiness that comes from a large breeding pool and the stamina gained from the Iberian and Arab bloodlines being diluted.
They were used in a breeding program in Pesaro, Italy along with other breeds to create a breed now known as the Catria Horse.
They stand around 15 hands or slightly taller(152 – 160cm), coat colour usually is most often bay, brown, dark chestnut or black, though gray and roan variations are occasionally seen, most likely from the introduction of Grey and Roan Thoroughbreds into the breeding pool.
Head is long and slightly heavy, neck is well muscled and broad as the base. They have high generously muscled withers, a large chest and girth with gently sloping shoulders. Their stock horse history remains obvious with a short back unlike the thoroughbred, Croup is sloping and they stand on solid legs that are well jointed with strong hooves. Whilst some amount of toughness has been sacrificed for greater speed and athleticism, they are still known to be solid mounts, hardy, able to manage uneven ground and extremes of weather.
Previously they have been used by the Mareema cattlemen as both riding mounts and for use as light draft horses. They have also been used as cavalry horses. Today they are a favorite of the Italian mounted Police/ They remain popular in Italy as all-rounder riding horses. Despite our large Italian population, none have yet been imported to Australia and they are not well known on the international stage as jumpers or eventers, or stock horses likely because of their all rounder role rather than purpose specialists.