The Scuderia Ferrari Logo
horse was originally the symbol of Count Francesco Baracca, a legendary "asso" (ace) of the Italian air force during World War I, who painted it on the side of his planes. Baracca died very young on June 19, 1918, shot down after 34 victorious duels and many team victories; he soon became a national hero.
Baracca had wanted the prancing horse on his planes because his squad, the "Battaglione Aviatori", was enrolled in a Cavalry regiment (air forces were at their first years of life and had no separate administration), and also because he himself was reputed to be the best cavaliere of his team.
It has been supposed that the choice of a horse was perhaps partly due to the fact that his noble family was known for having many horses on their estates at Lugo di Romagna. Another theory suggests Baracca copied the rampant horse design from a shot down German pilot who had the emblem of the city of Stuttgart on his plane. This is supported by the evidence that Barraca's horse looks more similar to the one of Stuttgart (not changed since 1938 ) than the current Ferrari design, especially as the legs of the horses are concerned.
Interestingly, rivalling German sports car manufacturer Porsche designed its logo by embeddeding the prancing horse logo of Stuttgart into the emblem of the state of Württemberg, just like the city is placed within the state. In the 1920s, Ferdinand Porsche had constructed supercharged cars for Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart before starting his own engineering company there in the 1930s, designing the Auto Union race cars, amongst others.
Curiously, the name Stuttgart is derived from Stutengarten, an ancient form of the modern German word Gestüt, which translates into English as stud farm and into Italian as scuderia. In turn, the Italians call Stuttgart Stoccarda. Obviously, the Ferrari-led Alfa team often met the Silver Arrow teams of Mercedes-Benz (from Stuttgart itself) and later Auto Union at race tracks in the 1920s and 30s, so each knew of the other.