India is home to a very special breed of horse: the Marwari warhorses. With their inward curved ears they do not only look very decorative, they are also bred to fight enemies on elephants and to withstand the sizzling desert heat. The Rajput, “Sons of Kings” in Rajasthan were always renowned for their bravery, loyalty and pride, and so were their horses.
It is unknown whether the Marwari are an ancient breed or emerged from the 12th century onwards in the deserts of Rajasthan. They are, however, an intelligent, fearless and hardy breed and helped the Rajput for centuries to defeat invasions and hold onto power.
As they had to fight against enemies on elephants, the horses wore false trunks. They made them look like baby elephants to the enemies’ sword-equipped mounts, so these would instinctively not attack them. The horses could come close to the elephants and rear up, placing their front hooves on the elephant’s head. This way their rider was able to attack the mahout with his lance.
The distinctive shape of the horses’ ears is not only decorative, but also vital for life in the sand dunes: The horses can swivel them by 180 degrees, providing superb hearing that would ensure a swift getaway as soon as the enemy could be heard. The horses were of such importance to the clans that it was said a Rajput could never be seperated from his horse.
Marwaris fell out of fashion when the British arrived in India, bringing Australian breeds with them. After independence the Marwaris were viewed as a symbol of the feudal system upon which the Rajputs’ powers had been based. Thanks to tourism the interest in Marwaris has returned and since the 1990s the unique horses have been bred more frequently again.
To see the homeland of these fascinating horses have a look at our India tours!