|Alternative names:||Bardi Horse|
|Country of origin:||Italy (Bardi)|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
The Bardigiano is a mid-sized pony breed, developed from Middle Ages Gaulish war ponies. A good all-purpose breed, these ponies have performed in areas that range from farm work to competitive driving to riding. Development in the Italian mountains produced a robust, hardy breed. They are also used extensively for pony trekking.
The Bardigiano generally stands from 13.1 to 14.1 hands high, though males under 13.2 hh are barred from registration. Recognized coat colors are bay, brown, and black. Chestnuts and light bays are not recognized. Limited white markings on the legs and face are allowed, but white facial markings with excessive lateral extension (commonly referred to as "bald-faced") are not.
Physical characteristics of the breed include a small head with a straight or concave profile, low withers, straight back, deep girth, and overall a muscular appearance.
The Bardigiano appears to have descended from the horses ridden by Belgian Gauls during their invasions into Italy during Roman times. This is the same ancestor from which the Haflinger appears to have developed. Over the centuries, the Bardigiano has adapted to the rough, mountainous habitat in the Northern Apennine region of Italy.
During World War I and World War II, Bardigiano mares were used to produce first-class mules, and in the process the number of purebred Bardigianos was significantly reduced. After World War II, in a move that is now widely considered a mistake, a diverse range of stallions from various breeds were introduced to reestablish the breed. However, this caused the breed to deteriorate and begin to lose its defining characteristics. Thus, in 1972, a committee was formed that has since successfully reestablished the Bardigiano breed.