The Maremma

The Cowboy


But - talking about Maremma grossetana - we cannot forget an antique characteristic presence: that of the maremmano horse, an inseperable companion of the cowboy; the maremmano - horse herds - of whose life revolves entirely around the horse that gives him a particular dignity. The maremmano horse is distinguished by the knowledge of its territory, it knows where to go, which road to choose, and where more or less to pass through the bush and where to ford the rivers and if they are passable. When it encounters a wild animal it doesn’t frighten it and manages to move without damaging anything. Today the function of the cowboy has nearly disappeared, dismissed by the epitaph from Ruspoli who recites: “Maremma dead / put the saddle on the last horse / I want to go away from this land / And tie to the saddle the basket / with an embalmed mosqitoe inside / a ricotta and a broom flower / Take from the fountain the stem / that I will take away in the saddlebags / now that they have demoralized the Maremma”. They survive in some strips of land; at times used for curious tourists who are guided on difficult journeys; or in the fairs or for branding (the branding of calves) that are still practiced by the cowboys on the last breeding farms. Or else in the breaking-in of the colts/fillies that are destined for the stables: these animals are driven into an enclosure and isolated one at a time; and then they are made to pass through a corridor of two narrowing dividers which is then blocked, they are saddled and then tied to a pole planted in the middle of the enclosure. After they have calmed down from doing acrobatic jumps and become tired from the fury and fear of having lost its liberty it is the turn of the most experienced cowboy to mount it. Nearly sunk by the bardella, the ancient saddle of the maremmana, the cowboys then take on the last hard fight of the colts to break them of their will. Cowboy and horse are therefore a characteristic presence of the Maremma grossetana, an integral part of the marvelous surrounding nature.