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The History of the Marwari Horse
The Marwari horse is believed to be descended from the splendid war horses that served the ruling families and warriors of feudal India from the beginning of that country's history. That said, their true origins are not completely known. The word marwari means "from the land of death."
Their status was unparalleled after being declared divine and superior to all men, including those of royal blood. Only the Rajput families and the Kshatriyas—both warrior caste—were permitted to mount these exquisite animals.
The Marwari horse was the most potent symbol of the warrior kings and somehow survived wholesale slaughter through ignorance during the troubled years preceding independence and several decades after.
Some of this slaughter can be blamed on British colonial rule, as the British preferred other breeds and tried to eliminate the Marwari. Some of the fault also lies with the Indian people following their independence.
In 1956, nine years after independence, many Indian princes gave up their titles of nobility, after which a land reform was announced. Because the princes had given up their titles, they had little claim to their lands, and so the government seized the land.
Due to this, stables filled with Marwari horses had nowhere to go. The former princes put down many Marwari to deal with the sheer number that could no longer be cared for, while a large amount was also given to the lower classes.
Unfortunately, the lower classes interpreted the Marwari as being symbolic of a time when they lived under the princes' tyranny. In an attempt to overthrow the past, the lower classes castrated many Marwari stallions.
Thanks to the surviving Rajput families and horse lovers from all communities, the resilient and beautiful Marwari has emerged from the threat of extinction into a bright and hopeful future.
Today, this beautiful horse breed is again achieving eminence due to its exquisite features and attractive attributes.
The Marwari Horse Temperament
The responsive and calm nature of the Marwari horse makes it an excellent creature to be ridden, as one can train it relatively easily. They are considered to be very noble and intelligent horses. They are similar to the Arab ponies and horses used in the Middle East.
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The horse can survive on little food in India's extreme heat and dry climates, which has earned it a reputation for its hardiness.
How to Recognize a Marwari Horse
These beautiful creatures are recognisable by their curled ears, lean frame, and long legs. The Marwari is a typical horse among the people of India and is often kept as a pet for riding or as a work animal. One of the most distinctive features of the Marwari horse is its long inward curling ears, which are believed to be a sign of good temperament.
The breed tends to stand around 14 to 17 hands high, depending on the region of India that the individual horse originated from, as well as the horse's sex. At an average of 16.8 hands, females stand taller than males, which only stand at an average of 14.9 hands. They come in all colours and have a long and relaxed ambling gait that is poetic to watch. Some say that they are similar to the Kathiawari breed from the region of the same name.
Today the horses are kept professionally for competitions and as pets. Many can be bought on the market—and some are listed on the Internet for sale. The Indigenous Horse Society of India categorises the horses which maintains strict standards for the breed.
Distinct Breeding of the Marwari Horse
The most obvious and distinct quality of the Marwari horse is its capacity to survive in brutal desert conditions. This ability is thought to have been genetically selected for in the breeding programs of the Rathores, a Rajput clan. The Rathores are believed to have enacted a strict breeding program for Marwari in the 12th century to help them survive in the extreme conditions of the Thar Desert.
Survival of the Marwari After Colonial Rule
After the attempted extermination of the Marwari under British colonial rule and the subsequent mass killings of the horse after the land reforms, the Marwari population dwindled dramatically. The breed's excellent genetic lineage was also partly undone due to careless breeding practices. Umaid Singh, the Maharaja of Jodhpur until 1947, took it upon himself to help ensure the Marwari's survival.
Marwari Horse Society and Recent Population Boom
In 1997, the All India Marwari Horse Society was formed with an eye to 12 guiding objectives. Here are a few of the society's most vital:
- "To preserve and improve the Marwari breed of horses."
- "To promote the reorganization of Marwari breed internationally."
- "To promote the equestrian potential of the breed, organizing special events for Marwari horses in horse shows regionally, nationally, and internationally."
Colonel Umaid Singh Rathore (not to be confused with the Maharaja of Jodhpur mentioned above) is the original secret general of the society, a position he held for over two decades. He reported in 2017 that the Marwari had experienced a population boom from 500 in the year 2000 to approximately 3,000.
The Marwari Horse, "Pride of India"
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.