Name of breed: Marwari Horse
Country of origin: India, most notably the Marwar region
Breed origin: A rare breed of horse from the Marwar region of India, the Marwari Horse is descended from native Indian ponies that were crossed with Arabian horses, and possibly with some Mongol pony influence. The traditional rulers of the Marwar region of western India, the Rathores, were the first to breed Marwari horses. Beginning in the 12th century, they adopted a strict breeding program that promoted purity and hardiness. Used throughout history as a cavalry horse by the people of the Marwar region, the breed declined in the 1930s when poor management practices resulted in a reduction of breeding stock. But the Marwari Horse has regained some of its popularity today and numbers are once again on the rise.
In 1995 a breed society was formed for the breed in India, and the exportation of Marwaris was banned. Since 2008, visas allowing temporary travel of Marwaris outside India have been available in small numbers.
Distinguishing features: Known for their inward-turning ears, the Marwari horse has similar features to the Kathiawari Horse, another breed from India. Used as a cavalry horse, the Marwari are noted for their loyalty and bravery in battle. They are hardy and easy keepers, but can also have unpredictable temperaments. Many members of the breed exhibit a natural ambling gait.
Modern day Marwari Horse: Despite the fact that the Marwari breed is indigenous to the country of India, their military forces make little use of the horses. Instead, Marwari horses are primarily used for competition (particularly suited to dressage but are also seen on the polo field), horse safaris, and for ceremonial and religious purposes.
Image credit: The Horse Forum