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Marwari Horse: Breed Characteristics

Horse Breeds, Long Eyelashes

When you see a Marwari from the distance or from a profile, he or she looks like any other slim, speedy horse. But then the Marwari (also called Malani) turns to look at you and you can’t help but notice the incredibly long ears that touch each other at the tips, forming an arch over the horse’s forelock. You may be forgiven for thinking the horse is somehow deformed. But if you are with a Marwari owner, do not voice this thought out loud. The spectacular ears are supposed to be that way.

General Description

Aside from the unusual ears, there are other physical traits that breeders strive for. The head is usually kept upraised, even at the gallop. Stallions are to look masculine and mares feminine, with large deer-like eyes. Both sexes have very long eyelashes, because in the part of India where the breed originated (Rajasthan), sandstorms were common. The head has a straight or Roman profile. The nostrils should be very large and the bite should be even.

The Marwari gives the appearance of being ready to gallop off even when standing still. They have long legs, a long, slightly arched neck, pronounced withers and an upright shoulder. They are sometimes cow-hocked. When at rest, the hind hooves should be directly below the udder in mares or the genitals in stallions. This combination helps give the Marwari a smooth gait, described as “floating over the sand” by Judith Dutson in “Storey’s Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America” (Storey Publishing; 2005.)

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Marwari come in many colors, including pinto patterns, but chestnut is frowned upon because that is thought to be a sign of impurity. However, black is allowed in the breed. The genes for chestnut also create black. The most expensive color of Marwari in India is white (either cremello or light grey). A blaze and four white stockings is also considered desirable. Black is the least expensive of the allowed colors, because in India black is equated with death.

Not For Beginners

The Marwari is an incredibly rare breed, with only about ten living outside of India. But should you happen to get on the back of one, you will be in for the ride of your life. These are incredibly intelligent horses that like their own way of doing things. Judith Dutson kindly describes them as best suited for “spirited pleasure riding”. They were bred to be war horses and will take the bit between their teeth. It is also said that they are intelligent enough to know when their rider is injured in battle and return home with the rider.

Marwari are bred to go from a standstill to a gallop in as few strides as possible. They also are aught to stop just as quickly and to turn at the slightest command. Many Marawi have a peculiar smooth gait called a “revaal” or “aphcal” – an amble similar to that of a Paso Fino’s gaits.

Additional References:

International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds. Bonnie Hendricks. University of Oklamona Press, 1995.

Storey’s Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America. Judith Dutson. Storey Publishing, 2005.

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Horse Marwari.com. “Breed Characteristics.” http://www.horsemarwari.com/breedcharec.htm