The Giara pony lived wild in herds all over the island of Sardiania until the late Medieval Times. Today, registration seems to be mainly limited to stallions, and reports vary in regard to the size of the population; there may be between 250 and 800 head.
The Giara Pony, is called the “Cavallino della Giara” by the locals. The Giara is a feral pony from the tableland “Giara di Gesturi” in southwestern Sardinia, an Italian island, which it was named after.
The origin of the Giara Pony is uncertain, but it is generally believed that they are not indigenous to the Island. They are thought to have been brought there by the Phoenicians or the Greeks four to five hundred years BC.
The name Giara, or Jara, developed among local inhabitants, inspired by the rock of 4,500 hectares basalt plateau, situated at an altitude of about 500-600 meters. Steep mountain slopes isolate the pony herds from the surrounding valleys and prevent the migration.
As is usually the case with pony breeds, their supporters and admirers tend to deny their status as a pony, but prefer to call them horses - as if a pony were by nature inferior to a horse. And as is also found often in small breeds the world over, the Giara pony shows some horse traits at least in many specimens, due to some oriental blood that was introduced sometime in its history. The harsh Giara environment forged a feral pony over the millennia that is sure-footed, strong, wild, and of a bold character.
In recent years the population has grown, due to joint efforts of the breeders and the Istituto Incremento Ippico della Sardegna (Institute for the Expansion of the Horse Population in Sardinia).
The Giara Pony is of bay, sorrel or chestnut color. Its head is short and angular, with heavy jaws, the mane abundant, the neck very muscular. The Giara pony has rather flat withers; its back is short and flat; the croup short, the tail set is low. The chest is fairly narrow, and not very deep.
The legs appear fine-boned and the hooves are small and extremely hard. Giaras are rather short-strided, but move energetically and confidently. Size is usually between 130 cm to 140 cm at the withers.
Giaras have been used as riding horses, both, in sport activities and leisure-time riding. They have a reputation of being often a little difficult in temperament and character, somewhat on the nervous side, and need a competent handler/rider. The Giara pony is not the easy-going, sweet-natured pony suitable for beginners, and will therefore hardly have a future as a mount for tourists.