The Bardigiano is a breed of small horse from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. It takes its name from the town of Bardi, in the Apennines of Parma, and is principally associated with the surrounding area and the Valle del Ceno. The mountain environment and steep, rough terrain of the area have contributed to produce a robust, hardy breed, agile and sure-footed over difficult ground.
The origin of this breed comes from the horses of Belgian Gauls who invaded Italy during Roman times. The same ancestor thought to produce the Haflinger. The Bardigiano also shows physical similarities to the Exmoor & Dales ponies, as well the Asturcon. This is a small horse native to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, taking their name from the town of Bardi in the Apennines of Parma. The local terrain is steep & mountainous which has contributed to a robust, hardy animal that is agile & sure-footed.
After WWII stallions of several different breeds were introduced to the area & the bloodlines became even more diluted, as did the specific traits of the original breed.
However small herds of pureblood animals were found, preserved by mountain agriculturists in the area. In 1977 the breed was officially recognized in an attempt to preserve & document their bloodlines. The official stud book was also established, held by the the regional animal breeders’ association of Parma, Associazione Provinciale Allevatori.
The Bardigiano is widely distributed in Italy, with breeders in 26 different Italian provinces. While the breed isn’t at risk for extinction, they are classed as ‘vulnerable’. In 1994, the breed standard was modified with the intention of increasing the suitability of the Bardigiano as a saddle horse while preserving its character.
The Bardigiano horse is very docile and easy to work with. They have a nice, quiet temperament.
Because Bardigiano borses are so docile, they can be taught to do about anything. They are excellent for agricultural work, packing, trekking, and riding. Bardigiano mares were bred with donkeys during World War I and World War II to produce robust mules.