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Saving the Marwari
 By Winniefield Park   •   6th Feb 2017   •   1,206 views   •   0 comments


The Marwari horse of India is taking steps to ensure that future generations of this magnificent breed are preserved. The Marwari horse has been around since the 1200s. During their history they have been regarded as divine, and were ridden only by royalty and warriors. They were bred to be fearless, elegant and very loyal. Their most distinctive characteristic is their uniquely curled in ears believed to have very sensitive hearing - important in the desert environment where there was no cover.

At the apex of their history, itís said that there were enough of these horses to mount a calvary of 50,000. But, after the British came to India, other breeds were introduced and the Marwari became a victim of colonialism. Careless breeding practices, difficult economic times for breeders and little need for cavalry horses led to the breedís decline. The horse was almost extinct when Maharaja Umaid Singhji and then his son Maharaja Gaj Singh II took steps to save the breed.

It wasnít until 1995 that an organized system of recording pedigrees was initiated and finally in 2009 the Marwari Horse Society was recognized as the government authorized registry. Today, there are approximately 1,500 Marwari horses registered. Currently, the Marwari Horse Society lists fifty stallions at stud and seventy-six breeders. Of these horses, approximately 150 will compete. Seventy horses appeared at that first show in 2004 and organizers are encouraged that the number has doubled. The show is to raise awareness of the breed, and provide a showcase so spectators can enjoy their talents.

At the show, held February 3 to 5 this year, spectators will watch horses and riders compete in events like tent-pegging, obstacle races and a somewhat controversial event where horses are displayed dancing in place with rapid steps, wearing bells, garlands and colorful harness. Most important are the in-hand classes, were horses are divided into age groups and judged against the breed standard. Itís hoped that by showcasing the breed and its talents, more will become interested in its preservation.

Donít look for Marwari horses at many North American shows. For a time, exporting of Marwari horses was banned. It was felt that the there were too few of the horses in India to supply any other countries. Now, only a handful of horses live outside India. Currently, itís estimated that there are only about 30 Marwari horses exported from the country. A few live in the United States, and others have been exported to Spain, Pakistan, and Oman. While itís expected that more will eventually be exported, their rarity ensures that the price is out of reach of most people. The shipping costs are also prohibitive.

Also at stake is preserving the intent of the original breeders - to create a horse that is divine, worthy of royalty and a fearless warhorse. They were never intended to be Ďjustí a riding horse, although their gaits, which includes a comfortable ambling pace are said to be smooth and easy to ride. But global interest and awareness are increasing, and itís thought that in the future, exports will increase.
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