A Sardinian horse
|Alternative names:||Sardinian Anglo-Arab, Anglo-Arabo-Sardo, AAS|
|Country of origin:||Sardinia|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
The Sardinian, Sardinian Anglo-Arab, or Anglo-Arabo-Sardo (AAS), is a horse breed that was established in Sardinia, originating from the crossing of Thoroughbred with Sardinian horses carrying Arabian blood. Its origins in Italy trace to Sardinia, where it has been selectively bred for more than one hundred years.
In 1874 The Ozieri Army Remount Station was established to supply mounts for the cavalry units of the Italian Army. To produce horses suitable for the cavalry, indigenous Sardinian mares were crossed with oriental-bred stallions such as the foundation sire Osmanié, and, starting from 1883, also with French-bred Anglo-Arabian stallions.
In 1915, captain Grattarola, director of the Ozieri Remount Station, continued the work by crossing the best 600 available mares with stallions of Purosangue Orientale breeding, using as his founding stallions Abbajan Sciarragh, Talata u Kamsin and Etnen u Kamsin, which had all been purchased directly from Bedouin desert tribes. Later on, Thoroughbred stallions started to be utilized on the mares of mixed Sardinian and oriental ancestry. One such Thoroughbred stallion was Rigogolo (son of Havresac II).
A goal of a minimum of 25% Arabian blood was set. In 1967 the breed was officially named “Anglo-Arabo Sardo” (abbreviated in AAS). Lately the suffix "sardo" has been dropped and the breed is increasingly being promoted as an Anglo-Arabian horse.
There is also a smaller native horse called the Giara's Horse, which is thought to have developed from Numidian (North African-possibly Barb) stock brought to the island by the Carthaginians in Roman times. It is these native horses that crossed first with Arabians and then Thoroughbreds, that provided the local foundation bloodstock that contributed to the creation of the Sardinian horse. The Government remount station in Ozieri is now crossing the Giara Horse with Arabians, Small AAS and even German riding Ponies in an effort to produce a pony ideally suited to equestrian sports, and is creating the "Giarab" pony breed. Many specimens of AAS are contributing to the foundation bloodstock of a new breed, named the "Sella Italiano" or Italian Saddle Horse.
Since the 1960s the AAS has proven itself in the sport of eventing and has also established itself as a racehorse and a steeplechaser. In 1990, Ostenda, an AAS horse won the Grand Prix des Pouliches in Tarbes, and the mare Vituliana repeated this feat in 1997. Vidoc, an AAS stallion, placed first in the Prix du Ministere in 1997. The majority of horses competing in the Palio Di Siena belong to the Anglo Arabo Sardo breed. They replaced the Thoroughbred for racing in the Palio di Siena after several horses had fractured their legs in the tight turns of the Siena Square, so they were replaced by the shorter and sturdier breed whose legs can better withstand the stress of the race. This horse also plays an important role in the folk festivals of Sardinia's horse culture such as the Sartiglia di Oristano, The Cavalcata Sarda and the Ardia di Sedilo. Several specimens are used by mounted regiments of the Carabinieri police force, continuing the tradition of the breed as a cavalry horse.
It is characterized by solid feet and legs, a refined head with a straight profile and a fiery temperament with speed and stamina. In Cavalry trials it was able to cover 100 kilometers per day for several days.