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By Smith Northam

Last updated: 12th May 2016

Samolaco Horse


Smith Northam
Last updated: 12th May 2016

The Samolaco Horse is a breed of rare horses that were originated from the Valchiavenna and Valtellina in Lombardy northern Italy. Originating in the 17th century, presently, these horses are conspicuously rare in number.

Quick Information

Other Names Chiavennese
Physical Descriptions The Samolacos are of a medium size and height with a light head, a broad chest, a rounded croup, and  a good neck
Colors Chesnut, bay
Common Uses Work, general riding
Size Medium
Height (size) Average
Ancestors Andalusians; Spanish horses; Avelignese
Feeding/Diet General horse diets, consisting of hay, grass, grains, vegetables, etc.
Country of Origin Italy
(native to the Sondrio province)
Year/Time of Development 17th century
Registries AIA
Breed Information No breed standards

History and Development

Researchers presume that this breed is a descendant of equines that were left abandoned by the invaders in the 17th century. As an endangered and rare breed of equines, the Samolaco had originated in Northern Italy in the Lombardy region. These horses were resistant to hunger, tiredness, and rigorous weather conditions. These horses were rarely bred and were found primarily in its native realms of Italy. With the foundation of the Italian Breeders Association on August 20, 1944, these horses were recognized with the aim to revive the national livestock that were reduced to count after World War II, though not considered among the fifteen indigenous breeds.

The breed has derived its name from ‘Samolaco’, a town in the area of Sondrio in Italy, an area which was predominately agricultural. Based on the paintings belonging to the era, it is quite credible to presume that, it was the Andalusian breed of horses that led the foundation for this breed. The Samoloaco horses were used very sparingly since the local cattle, including the powerful Bruna Alpina oxen that were used for the forestry and agricultural tasks, and hence, there was seldom any demand for these horses.

Thus, by the end of the 20th century, the Samolaco ended up in poor condition and were prone to confirmation faults. Even the production of horse meat was not economically lucrative, and hence, these horses were transported to the higher alpine pasture in summer, and were stabled only during the winter season. This is how the raising of the Samolaco breed was largely abandoned.

Later, in the 1980s, the few horses, with limited distribution that were left, came out with pale chestnut coloration with the systematic introduction of Avelignese genes. Initially, the introduction of the Avelignese blood was a program for the improvement of the Samolaco breed, however, later, it effectively became one of the outright substitution. Eventually, the Samolacos got critically degenerated having large, heavy heads, and poorly conformed legs.

Interesting Facts

  • In 1994, the population was listed in Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) as over 12 in 1994, though the count increased to about 100 in 1998.

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