Breed Organization Information
The Marwari Horse Breeder’s Association
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Jodhpur, India (342006)
About the Breed
The Marwari horse is native to the Marwar region of India, and its origins are entwined with local folklore. According to Shri Mahant Baba Balak Dasji Maharaj, the head Priest of the Monastery at Kalabar, and a breeder of Marwari horses, the breed can be traced to a period, “when the ocean was churned to extract nectar for the Gods…a period when horses had wings.”
The Rathores, a warrior clan of the Raiputs, were driven from their kingdom of Kannaju around the 12th century. The land in which they resettled was known as “Maru Pradesh” meaning the land of death. As the name implies, this was a desolate and harsh land that required an equally rugged horse. The native Marwari Horse proved particularly well suited for both the desert environment and its role as a battle horse for the Rathore cavalry.
During the Middle Ages, the principal occupation of the Rathores of Marwar was breeding Marwari Horses. The Raiputs fielded a cavalry consisting of more than 50,000 horses under the reign of Mogul emperor Akbar.
The Marwari’s homing instinct helped save many a rider’s life. They were famous for bringing back riders who became lost in the desert. The Marwari breed has long been noted for having exceptional hearing. This enabled the Marwari to catch sounds from further away than most breeds, allowing both horse and rider early warning of impending danger.
The brave Raiput did not always fight solely for land. They went into battle believing that there was no better way to die than on the field. It was on such occasions that the Marwari would become one with their masters. No one could separate the blood that lay clotted together in the sand. There were only three ways a Marwari cavalry horse left a battlefield: one was if he was victorious, another was when he carried his wounded master to safety, and the last was when he was eaten by vultures after laying down his life for his Master.
The Modern Marwari Horse
With their days as a battle horse at an end, the 20th century has seen a precipitous drop in the number of Marwari horses. It is fortunate for the breed that the Maharaja of Jodhpur has taken a keen interest in their survival. He is planning to introduce a stud book for the remaining Marwaris in which horses will be registered only if their conformation and type match specific breed standards.
The Maharaja is not alone in the effort to save and strengthen the breed. Both Prince H.H.Shriji Arvind Singhji of Mewar and Prince H.H. Mahipendra Singhji of Danta will join the Maharaja of Jodhpur in establishing a national society for the promotion of the Marwari.
Marwaris are an extremely sturdy breed, able to take thirst and heat in stride because of their thin skin. They are hardy enough to subsist on the small rations available in their desert environment, and rarely need shoes. The Marwari have slightly less slant to their shoulder bones enabling them to more easily extract their legs from deep sand. The angle of the bone prevents the Marwari from striding out to the fullest, thus diminishing their speed. The resulting action of the legs however, makes the Marwari a very comfortable horse to ride.
The ears of the Marwari have a distinct inwards curve with the tips sometime touching. This is thought to have come from the introduction of Arab blood into the breed. In spite of a compact body, nature provided the Marwari with longer limbs which keep the horse’s underside away from the scorching sand of the desert. The modern Marwari has an average height of 14 hands to 15.2 hands. Predominant colors are bay, chestnut, brown, palomino, piebald, and skewbald.