Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Giara   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Giara (also known as 'The little horse of Giara') is an Italian breed of a small horse, that is also one of the two ancient horse breeds of Sardinia (the second breed being the Sarcidano.) It is named after the Giara plateau in Sardinia, where it roams freely to this very day.

Horses are not native to Sardinia, and this means that the ancestors of the Giara horse were introduced to Sardinia by humans. While it is known that these ancestors arrived at the island around 2,500 years ago, it is unclear how and by whom these horses were brought to Sardinia. Nevertheless, over the next centuries since their arrival, these horses got adapted to living in the Sardinian wilderness, and developed into the Giara breed.

Originally, Giara horses lived in semi-wild conditions; they would roam freely on the island, and were taken to work when needed. However, in the 1960s, due to the mechanization of agriculture, there was no longer a need for Giara horses. The breed was on the brink of extinction during the 1970s, but was subsequently saved thanks to a special program that focuses on the breeding of Giara and Giarab horses. As part of this program, Giara horses are allowed to roam freely in Giara Park, and they are protected by the Italian authorities, who oversee their wellbeing and manage their breeding. Today, the Giara is a rare breed in Italy, but thanks to these conservation efforts its numbers are increasing.

As mentioned above, most Giara horses roam freely in Giara Park in Sardinia. They are usually not tamed, and only serve as a tourist attraction. Some Giara horses, however, do live in captivity, and are often tamed and serve as children's mounts or are used in rodeo events. In addition, many Giara horses are crossed with Arabian and Sardinian Anglo-Arab horses to form the Giarab, a breed that is used as a sport mount for children (see the 'Giarab' for more information.)

The Giara is a small horse that has a large head, a deep jaw, small ears, a short neck, a straight and long back, a sloping croup, slim hindquarters, thin legs, and a narrow body. The mane, tail, and especially the forelock, are usually thick, with the mane usually being of a medium length, and the tail being of a medium or long length. While this breed is sometimes called "Giara Pony" because of its small stature, the Giara is not a pony but a small horse.

Giara horses come in the colors of bay, black, brown, or chestnut, and the coat usually has a dark tone. White markings can occur, where facial markings are more common than leg markings. Giara horses stand between 11.1hh and 13.1hh.

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