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San Fratello (horse)

San Fratello
Alternative names: Sanfratellano
Country of origin: Italy (Sicily)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

The Sanfratellano is an Italian light horse breed that originated in Sicily. They are a hardy breed that is used for riding, packing, and light draft work.


The Sanfratellano comes from the Nebrodi mountains in the province of Messina in Sicily. Their native habitat has developed them into a strong, powerful breed known for their endurance. A legend says that a Lombard Pricess, Adelaide Del Vasto, married a Norman Noble in the 11th century AD (Sicily was ruled by Norman Warlords at the time) and brought to Sicily her retinue, including a number of knights and their horses. To this day the people of San Fratello speak a lombard dialect, different from the sicilian dialect of surrounding areas. The Sanfratellano horse is said to have descended from the horses of those knights.

The breed has received infusions of Anglo-Arab, Spanish Anglo-Arab, Salerno (horse) and Nonius blood, although it has remained surprisingly true to type, and resembles no other breed so much as its fellow Italian Maremmana. Breeding stock is carefully selected for propagation of the breed, and most colts are trained young as pack horses[1].

Breed Characteristics

The San Fratello usually stands between 15 and 16 hands high, and weighs between 1,100 and 1,300 lbs. They are always black or bay. They are muscular, well-built horses that are hardy and frugal[1]. There are approximately 5,000 specimens of this breed (1,800 broodmares) making it one of the most numerous indigenous breeds in Italy.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bongianni, Maurizio (1988). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Horses and Ponies. Simon & Schuster, Inc.. pp. p. 29. ISBN 0671660683. 


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