The first noticeable thing about a Marwari horse is its ears. The ears are so curved that the edges touch, giving the breed a unique appearance. The Marwari’s history spans several centuries, and today, the breed remains a rare but highly valued horse.
Marwari Origin and History
The Marwari has its history rooted mainly in folklore. The horse breed originates from the Marwar region in India, where horses native to the area crossed with Arabians. Legend has it that the Arabian horses arrived India on Arabian ships that got shipwrecked off the coast.
The Rathores bred the first Marwaris in the twelfth century. They prized the horses and selectively bred them to improve their qualities. In the sixteenth century, the Marwaris were mostly popular as cavalry horses. They have an instinct for direction and could return riders home if they got lost in the desert. Also, the Marwari has incredible hearing that helps alert both rider and horse of any potential danger.
Although the Marwari was essential for battles, the lifestyle changed in the twentieth century, and the horse became less sought after. Breed numbers dropped, and British inhabitants of India chose the Thoroughbred breed over Marwari horses. And then, Marwari horses were poorly bred until they became almost extinct.
Fortunately, some devoted breed enthusiasts preserved the horses. Umaid Maharaja Singhji was one of the first individuals to advocate for the Marwaris, and his grandson picked up from where he left off. Francesca Kelly established a Marwari Bloodline group in 1995 to preserve the horse breeds throughout the world. In 2000, she brought in the first Marwari horse to the US and subsequently exported 21 additional horses from India. India ceased granting Marwaris exporting licenses in 2006. In 2009, the Indian Marwari Horse Society created a registration process and studbook for the breed, ensuring the proper evaluation of individual horses in compliance with the breed standards restoring the quality emphasized several centuries before by the Rathores.
Marwari Size and Life Expectancy
Marwari horses stand about 14 to 16 hands high. They have a slim stature and are relatively light (weighing about 700 to 1,000 pounds). The life expectancy of an average Marwari is between 25 and 30 years.
Markings and Colors
Marwari horses may come in many color varieties, such as grey, skewbald, palomino, bay, piebald, and chestnut. Grey horses are the most expensive, while skewbald and piebald horses come close. Horses with four white socks and white blazes are also prevalent.
Breeding and Uses
Although it’s present in some other countries outside India, the Marwari horse breed is rare throughout the world. There are still some Marwari breeding practices, but you’re more likely to see them in India than other countries.
The Marwari is useful in several areas. Their beautiful appearance makes them perfect for ceremonial purposes and parades. When crossed with Thoroughbred horses, their offspring are usually more versatile and slightly larger. The Marwari horses are also ideal for polo and dressage, thanks to their stamina and agility.
Unique Features of the Marwari Horse
Due to the Marwari horse’s distinctive ears, the breed is easy to recognize quickly. Their ears curve inward, and a few of them curve so much that their tips touch.
Initially bred to be desert horses, the modern Marwari breed still has those characteristics. Unlike many other horse breeds, the Marwari’s shoulder bones don’t have much slant. This physical trait enables them to pull their legs out of deep sand in the desert. Due to this bone angle, the Marwari breeds are slower than many other breeds, including the Thoroughbred and the Arabian. However, the bone angle creates a comfortable leg action for the rider.
Marwaris are gaited horses. Its gait is a quick, four-beat gait that enables smooth and comfortable rides. Also referred to as rehwal or revaal, this gait enables the Marwari horses to travel long distances quickly and easily.
The Marwari’s thick skin makes it necessary for some extra care and grooming, especially when bugs are rampant in summer and springs. Prompt treatment of fly bites and the provision of fly protection can keep the Marwari horses more comfortable.
Many Marwari owners often allow the natural growth of their horses’ manes. Both tails and manes benefit from regular detangling and grooming. The horse’s short coat naturally shines, if it’s supported with regular grooming and proper nutrition.
Marwari Nutrition and Diet
Marwari horses are very hardy and can survive even on limited food. Due to the breed’s rarity, there’s limited information on its specific diet and nutritional needs. Ensure to provide quality hay and dietary supplements to balance your horse’s nutrition.
Common Behavior and Health Problems
Due to the rarity of Marwari horses, there are no widely recognized health issues yet. The horses are generally healthy and are famous for having tremendously healthy and strong hooves. They’re also trainable and friendly.
Is the Marwari Horse Right for You?
The comfortable gait that Marwaris have makes them a perfect mount for anyone who needs a smoother ride. The horse is ideal for riders with physical discomfort (like back pain) who prefer gaited breeds. The Marwari horse breed’s desert heritage and excellent endurance make it perfectly fit for hot climate living and competition in intense trail and endurance riding.
Although the Marwari has numerous great traits, note that they’re hard to find for sale in the US. If you’re not a breed enthusiast, consider looking into more common, similar horse breeds like the Arabian horse.
How to Buy or Adopt a Marwari
Since India disallows the exportation of Marwaris, finding them for sale in the US is difficult. But if you’re committed to purchasing a Marwari horse, you’ll need to be patient and ready to pay more than the usual cost of another horse breed. You may also need to pay for shipping the horse a long distance too.