Anglo-Arabians, Barbs and Turcoman horses
Anglo Arabians are some of the best horses in the world. In central Asia there are races held over distances of 30 Kilometers and up to 56 Kilometers where Anglo Arabs compete, at a full gallop. Here are videos of these incredible horses. These are the fastest horses on those distances and the horses with the most stamina and endurance. Going at a full gallop for 30 minutes with a man in the saddle can be fatal for many horses! Since the time of Genghis Khan it has been known that a horse can gallop at full speed for up to 30 Km, after which it needs to slow down.
The Horses that compete in the Palio Di Siena, the oldest and most dangerous race in the world are Anglo Arabs
Below is a video of the best Rejoneo Horse Ever, Merlin who was a cross between a Quarter Horse Stallion and a Luso-Anglo-Arab mare.
The Anglo-Arab is highly esteemed in Spain and is used for the sport of Acoso-y-derribo
And of Course the Anglo Arab is also renown as a superb Cross Country and Eventing Horse
The Barb Horse
Claudio Corte, writing in 1562, at the close of a century of warfare on Italian soil, did not even mention the Arabian, which probably did not exist as a breed at that time. Corte, however, shows deep admiration for the Barb horse, which was well known in Italy and was famous as a racehorse. Many Italian cities held horse races during celebrations of religious festivals. These horse races were known as "Palio" and the tradition continues to this day. The Palio di Siena has been held every year since the 1400s, except for a few interruptions due to wars. To this day the horses competing in the Palio di Siena are known as "Barberi" (Barbs).
Palio racing was the sport of princes and noblemen. The Prince of Mantua built a stud which bred a particularly fast strain of Barb horses, which dominated palio races all over Italy for many years. These horses were known as the "Barberi Di Mantova" ("Mantua's Barbs"). The Prince loved his horses so much that he had them painted in the frescos adorning his palace, where they can be admired to this day.
The Barb influenced a number of Italian horse breed, including the Neapolitan, the Murgese and the Sicilian.
If you review your history you will see that parts of Puglia were held by the Saracens for about 40 years and then were reconquered by Norman warriors (yes, the Vikings), while Sicily was held by the Moors for almost 200 years and was then conquered by Normans. Yes, there were not one but two Viking kingdoms in Southern Italy, in case you did not know. If you do not believe me, just look it up on wikipedia. The Barb was well established in Italy since the days of the Romans, but the Moorish invaders brought fresh Barb blood with them, while the Saracens in Puglia brought turkish horses. The Normans of course also brought their horses. The Neapolitan originated as a cross of indigenous horses with Barbs, Turcoman and Norman heavy cavalry horses. The Sicilian horse is the result of crosses of Barb horses with Norman horses.
The Sicilian horse, which is an excellent saddle horse, and is still used to this day by the mounted regiments of the Carabinieri, so it still serves as a cavalry horse in modern times. In Sicily the Siciliano is called "Distinto da Sella" which
means "Distinguished Saddlebred" .
The Neapolitan and The Murgese
The Neapolitan horse was the preferred war horse of medieval knights during the 15th and 16th centuries, but then declined in numbers until it was almost extinct. In the treatise " Il Cavallarizzo " written by Claudio Corte in 1562, three years after the end of the Great Italian Wars, the author describes how the best Neapolitan war horses came from the Puglie region and from Calabria, indicating that " Neapolitan horses " were all the horses bred for war in the Kingdom of Naples, which included Puglie and Calabria. Hence, the Murgese is considered as the direct descendant of the famous Neapolitan horse. The Murgese is extremely docile and stallions do not need to be gelded and are regularly ridden. This horse is misunderstood and underappreciated. People want to make a dressage or sport horse out of it, but what this horse excel at is war. If you were a soldier of fortune in the 1500s, the mount you would want is this horse, period. It was not bred for dressage, it was not bred for sport, it was bred for war. In the United States some breeders breed the so called "Spanish Norman" horses to recreate the ideal mount for late medieval knights. The ideal mount already exists: it is the Neapolitan horse, and its descendant, the Murgese.
In 1492 the Spaniards expelled the Moors from the iberian peninsula after a war that lasted seven centuries (it started in AD 711 with the moorish invasion). A few months later the Italian navigator Cristopher Columbus claimed the American Continent for the Spanish Crown, handing Spain unimaginable riches. In 1493 Spain started its ascent to superpower status by battling French troops on Italian soil. The Great Italian Wars were started. After the battle of Cerignola, the Spanish Tercios emerged as the rulers of the battlefied. They would go undefeated for almost two centuries. Cavalry was vital to the conduct of war, and the best cavalry horse for the melee and close combat with other knights was the Neapolitan Horse. The Spaniards took many Neapolitan horses back to Spain where they were used to improve the indigenous horses. The Great Italian Wars saw some of the most spectacular cavalry actions of European history, the Spaniards knew all too well they had to have Neapolitan horses for their cavalry. Claudio Corte wrote his treatise on horses in 1562, three years after the end of the Great Italian Wars. In his writings he does not mention the Andalusian horse, because it did not exist at that time. The Spaniards used the "Ginetti" (Jennets) for their light cavalry and the "Villanos" for their heavy cavalry. The Jennets, the Villanos and the Neapolitans, bred in the Spanish-controlled territory in Southern Italy were the horses that made Spain a superpower, allowing her to triumph over France. The Andalusian horse was not on the battlefields of the Great Italian Wars and is not the horse that made Spain a superpower. Claudio Corte tells us that the horses used in war were the Neapolitans, especially those bred in the Puglie and in Calabria, the Jennets, the Villanos, the Friesians, the Portuguese horses, the Sicilian horses, the Barbs and the Turcomans. There was no mentions of Arabians or Andalusians, so these two breeds were not used for war during the heyday of medieval cavalry battles. I found no mention of Arabians as war horses until Napoleon started using them.
Napoleon and the "invention" of the arabian horse.
Napoleon "invented" the Arabian horse. Napoleon was a fervent admirer of the Mamluks he fought against during his Egyptian Campaign. he particularly admired their cavalry,which was mounted on small oriental horses of the Cirit breed, which originated in Anatolia. He started riding those horses himself and admired their endurance. The Turkish Pasha gave Napoleon one such horse, Le Vizir, as a gift. When a man of the caliber of Napoleon rides a certain breed of horse and prasises it, every military man in Europe wants one. So the myth of the arabian horse was born. Napoleon also created the Anglo-Arab for his cavalry officers. Napoleon imported five stallions and five mares and gave them to the National French Stud at Pompadour. These horses would later form the basis for the Anglo-Arab.
The Reconstructed Neapolitan Horse
The Murgese horse comes from the Puglie, one of the traditional breeding areas of the Neapolitan horse, it is mostly black and has very hard black hooves. The feet of the Murgese are incredibly tough. Quarter Horses often damage their hooves and go lame on the rocky terrain of the Murge region, where the Murgese horses thrive.
Apart from the Murgese there is now also another attempt to reconstruct the Neapolitan Horse of old. It is a new breed resulting from crosses between Murgeses and Lipizzaners. Lipizzaner horses carry much Neapolitan blood. In addition, Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia had a pure Neapolitan Stallion, the last of his breed, which was purchased and brought back to Italy and used with Murgese and Lipizzaners to reconstruct the breed. The video below shows a specimen of the reconstructed breed.
Most people believe that the Akhal Teke is the best representative of the Turcoman breed. However Akhal Tekes are not pure Turcomans, since they all carry a small percentage of Thoroughbred Blood. The last pure Teke with no TB blood died in Germany in 1996. These days pure Turcomans are only found in Iran and Afghanistan. Below are examples of purebreds
I want to mention three more horses. the Maremmano and its cousin,the Tolfetano and the Sanfratellano. These horses will not win any beauty contest, but they are incredibly tough, healthy and endurant and make fantastic ranch horses. The Italian cowboys, known as "Butteri" often cross the Maremmano or Tolfetano with Quarter Horses, hoping that the progeny will inherit the cow sense of the Quarter Horse, and the robustness,endurance and good feet of the indigenous horses. As for the Sanfratellano, history says that a Lombard princess, Adelaide del Vasto, married a Norman warlord in Sicily and brought with her several Lombard Knights and their horses. The horses were bred in a semi-feral state on the Nebrodi mountains near the village of San Fratello. To this day, the people of San Fratello speak a Lombard dialect, which differs from the usual Sicilian dialect. The Sanfratellano horse is well known for his excellent health, great endurance and reliability. It was the mount of medieval knights.