All About the Marwari Horse: Breed Profile, History, Characteristics, & Facts


The Marwari horse breed is extremely rare and is historically grounded in the folklore of the Asian country of India. With its distinctive curled ears, the Marwari breed was at one point on the verge of extinction. This horse breed has some nice qualities and has now gained some popularity, but is still found primarily in the country of India.

All About the Marwari Horse Breed

History and Origins

The Marwari horse breed’s history is largely grounded in Indian folklore. We know that the Marwari breed originated in the Indian Marwar region, where the horses native to that region were then cross-bred with Arabians. The folklore part comes from the question of how the Arabian horses got there; the most popular legend claims that Arabian ships were shipwrecked off the coast of the Marwar region, and that’s where the Arabian horses came from. Regardless of how the Arabian horses got to India, the resulting Marwari horses were bred in the 1100s by the Rathores, an Indian clan that selectively prized and bred these horses to enhance their best qualities. By the 16th century, the Marwari horses would be used for the calvary. They were a popular choice for this purpose because they were known for having a strong, natural sense of direction, which helped them carry lost riders in the vast desert back home. The Marwari horse breed is also known for having an excellent sense of hearing, which in turn resulted in the horse and rider being alerted to danger.

The Marwari horse breed was on the verge of extinction in the 20th century, when India’s British occupiers preferred Thoroughbreds over the Marwari horse due to lifestyle changes. The Marwari horse breed was almost completely eroded by poor breeding practices, but fortunately there were just enough dedicated breed enthusiasts to keep it preserved. A Marwari Bloodlines group was created in 1995 by a woman named Francesca Kelly, who wanted to preserve the Marwari horse breed worldwide. She imported the first Marwari horse to the United States in 2000, which resulted in 21 more horses being exported from India. India responded by refusing to grant export licenses for the Marwari breed in 2006, and the Marwari Horse Society of India was created to start making studbooks and registration processes in 2009. This helped remedy the eroded quality of the breed and restore it to its former glory from the 1100s.

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Marwari Horse Breed Statistics

Height and Weight

The Marwari horse ranges in height from 14 – 16 hands tall and weighs around 750 – 1,000 pounds. They are known for having slim bodies and being a particularly light breed.

Color and Markings

Marwari horses appear with a variety of many different coat colors including bay, piebald, skewbald, chestnut, gray, chestnut, and palomino. Indians associate black with darkness and death, making any black-colored Marwari horse considered to be unlucky. On the flip side, Marwari horses with white blazes on their faces and four white socks are considered to be lucky. Gray Marwari horses are the most prized, although people also heavily favor piebald and skewbald horses.

Conformation

The Marwari horse breed’s conformation proves its purpose as a desert horse. Their shoulders slant less than what will be seen in most breeds, which allows the Marwari horse to have a shorter stride that permits them to run in the desert sand by quickly pulling up its legs. This may make them slower than the Thoroughbred or Arabian horse, but it also makes the Marwari horse more comfortable to ride over the vast desert wastelands. Despite its lack of speed, the Marwari horse breed’s ambling, fast, four-beat gait, called a rehwal or revaal, allows the horse to smoothly and quickly travel large distances.

Unique Characteristics of the Marwari Horse

The biggest, most uniqe and immediately noticeable characteristic about the Marwari horse breed is its ears. They curve inward so much that the tips touch each other. Thanks to this breed’s unique characteristics in its bloodline, it is still to this day bred as a desert horse. 

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Marwari Horse Temperament

The Marwari horse is known to have a brave, spirited, and loyal temperament. They also tend to be trainable and friendly.

Grooming the Marwari Horse

Additional special grooming care is recommended for a Marwari horse due to its very thin skin. The biggest concern will be in the spring and summer months when bugs are more of a nuisance. In order to help keep your Marwari horse comfortable, it is recommended to provide fly protection and immediately treat fly bites. Beyond that, the Marwari horse’s coat will maintain its natural shine as long as the horse is provided with regular grooming and good nutrition. If you are like most owners and allow the mane and tail of your Marwari horse to naturally grow out, then extra grooming and detangling will be very beneficial.

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Nutrition for the Marwari Horse

There is not much known about the Marwari horse breed’s specific nutritional needs due to its rarity. What is known is that, since the Marwari horse was bred to be a desert horse, it is very hardy and known to survive on very limited feed.

Common Health Issues for the Marwari Horse

Once again because of the Marwari horse breed’s rarity, there are no widely-known breed-specific health issues that are yet recognized. For now, it is believed that Marwari horses are generally healthy and have especially healthy and strong hooves. Since this breed was made to thrive in hot, desert climates, if you were to keep one in a cold area then extra precautions may need to be taken to ensure they stay warm to keep them from illness.

Marwari Horse Common Uses and Talents

The beautiful Marwari horse breed is used mostly for ceremonial purposes and parades, especially since they mostly exist in the colorful culture and country of India. They also have a good amount of stamina and agility, making them an ideal breed choice for the disciplines of dressage and polo. When a Marwari horse is crossed with a Thoroughbred, it is a bit larger than its counterparts and tends to be more versatile in multiple disciplines.

Facts About the Marwari Horse

There are some interesting facts about the Marwari horse breed. For instance, at one time the Marwari was originally only bred to have black-colored coats. However, since then black-coated horses have become less desirable as they are now considered to be ominous. They now appear in more diverse colors like pinto, bay, chestnut, and palomino.

Another interesting fact regarding this horse breed is that it has multiple names. The Marwari horse breed also includes horses under the Malani and Marwardi horse breeds.

Famous Marwari Horses

With the Marwari horse breed being highly treasured in India, there are little-known facts about there being champion and celebrity horses. Since Marwari horses are popular in folklore, however, there are several tales that include horses of this breed. One such tale is about a gray Marwari stallion named Chetak, who carried its master Maharana Pratap in the battle of Haldighati against the Moguls and was brave enough to stand up to a war elephant. He then reared up so Pratap could kill the Mogul warrior on top of the elephant. Despite being injured by the elephant’s tusks, it is believed that Chetak then carried Pratap for miles before he died near a river. A more broad-covered tale that the Indians believed is that when a soldier was wounded in battle, a true-bred Marwari horse would always carry him to safety.

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Is the Marwari Horse Right for You?

A comfortable gaited horse, anyone looking for a smooth ride or who suffers from back problems would appreciate a horse of the Marwari breed. However, due to their scarcity outside of India, you will likely only be able to ride a Marwari horse there.

How to Adopt or Buy a Marwari Horse

It is nearly impossible to find a Marwari horse to purchase in the United States since India still prohibits this horse breed from being exported from their country. In order to obtain a horse of this breed, you should be prepared to pay a significantly higher amount than you will have to pay for any other horse breed, as well as paying a good amount for shipment. Your best bet may be to find a Marwari horse to lease from somebody else, as this may be a slightly cheaper and easier option than owning one for yourself.

Marwari Horse FAQs

How much does a Marwari horse cost?

A Marwari horse costs between 5-8 lakhs or more in India, which in American dollars is around $5,000-$10,000 or more. Quality Marwari show horses can cost upwards of $15,000-$20,000.

How big do Marwari horses get?

Marwari horses grow to be 14 – 16 hands in height and weigh between 750 – 1,000 pounds. 

Where do Marwari horses come from?

This breed is native to the Marwari, or Jodphur, region of India.

Are Marwari horses good for beginner riders?

The Marwari horse breed’s qualities make them better suited for a more intermediate rider.

How rare is a Marwari horse?

The Marwari horse is an extremely rare and prized breed. 

Are Marwari horses gaited?

Yes, the Marwari horse is a gaited breed, allowing for smooth gaits for their riders. 

Conclusion

While there is not much known about the Marwari breed due to them being mostly in India, they are fascinating. From their curved ears to easy temperament and ability to be low maintenance due to being a desert horse, they are a rare horse worth bringing back from almost extinction.

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1 Comment

  1. May 27, 2022 / 8:51 am

    I pass by some everyday I go to the barn where my horse is. Sandhu is right down the street. Amrinder breeds Marwaris. You can find him on FB Sandhu Stables. their ears are so cute, especially on the foals 🙂

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