What are the famous horse breeds in India?

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India is one of the world’s biggest nations, and it is home to the stunning Taj Mahal as well as some of the world’s most gorgeous countryside.

While they are not well recognized outside of India, India possesses some of the most unusual and beautiful horse breeds.

There are nine common Indian horse breeds: the Marwari, Kathiawari, Spiti, Bhutia, Manipuri, Zanskari, Bhimthadi, Chummarti, and Sikang. These nine horse breeds are either entirely or partially indigenous to India.

Horses are vital to the rural Indian economy. They have many important roles including agricultural work, transportation, and riding. Moreover, horses are significant in Indian culture. Read more about each fascinating breed below.

Here are nine native Indian horse breeds.

1. Marwari

Marwari, Indian horse breed with curly ears Daria Koskova / Shutterstock.com

The Marwari is India’s most distinctive and easily recognized horse breed. The breed originates from the Marwar (or Jodhpur) region of Rajasthan, where they were first bred in the 12th century as a fierce cavalry horse, descended from Arabians and local ponies.

The Marwari have been a popular choice of the Indian troops in Jodhpur and Jaipur due to their devotion. These unusual horses are particularly popular in India for parades and festivities. They are hardy, athletic horses with excellent endurance and they are also capable of withstanding hot desert environments.

The Indian government has prohibited the export of this rare species for decades. However, from 2000-2006, India lifted the ban and allowed a small number of horses to be exported.

In 2008, India started permitting Marwari horses to be “temporary exports” to other nations for up to a year for show.

Marwari horses are distinguished by their distinctive ears. Their ears curve at the top, causing the tips of their ears to touch.

Marwari horses are distinguished by their high set neck, agile body, and polished head. They range in height from 14 to 16 hands and are available in all colors except piebald and skewbald. Polo, dressage, endurance, in-hand, and show jumping are all common applications for Marwari horses.

2. Kathiawari

Kathiawari horse with a chestnut colored coat standing in a field Ashwin Bavadiya / Shutterstock.com

The Kathiawari and Marwari breeds are closely related. Kathiawari horses originate from the Kathiawar peninsula of Gujarat in western India.

The Kathi tribe initially raised the Kathiawari horse as a desert warhorse due to its exceptional endurance. Kathiawari horses would travel great distances through difficult terrain with little sustenance. Their ancestors, like the Marwari, may be traced back to the Arabian horse.

Kathiawari horses likewise have curled ears that connect at the tips. They have a crest on their neck, a muscular body, and a sophisticated head. Kathiawari horses are 14.2- 15 hands tall and available in every color except black.

They are often employed for riding, driving, police mounts, and tent pegging because to their agility.

3. Spiti

Spiti horse bred in the Indian mountains Himanshu Chand / Shutterstock.com

The Spiti horse is a tiny mountain pony native to northern India, named after the Spiti river. Though not much is known about their origins, they share similarities to Mongolian and Tibetan breeds and are closely related to the Zanskari breed.

Spiti ponies are primarily only bred with traditional breeding methods around their home area along the Spiti River. As a result, there are only around 4,000 Spiti ponies.

The mares and stallions are kept apart by a collection of nearby settlements. Once a year, the mares are bred to one stallion, with a different stallion being used every year.

Spiti ponies stand 9 to 12 hands tall and are often bay, black, piebald, or grey in color. They have a small physique, a deep chest, and a thick coat. These durable ponies are excellent candidates for pack horses and regular riding.

4. Bhutia

Bhutia horse that's native to India

The Bhutia is a small breed of horse from the Sikkim and the Darjeeling regions of northern India. They are a tough breed that can withstand difficult alpine terrains and temperatures.

The Bhutia breed is quite close to Tibetan and Mongolian breeds. Despite their origins are unknown, they are most likely descended from locally bred ponies and horses. They are widely employed as pack horses and for light agricultural labor due to their hardy temperament.

Bhutia horses are on average 12.3 to 14.3 hands tall and are typically bay or gray in color. Their necks are short, their heads are huge, and their chests are deep.

5. Manipuri

Manipuri horse mare with a foal in a field Photo by Pamela Flanagan

The Manipuri pony is a unique breed of pony native to Manipur, India’s northeastern state. Experts believe that they are descendants of Mongolian Wild Horses and Arabians, along with other pony stock.

Manipuri ponies have been bred for centuries in northern India and were once popular choices for warhorses. Manipuris were also the original polo horse breed.

Manipuris were greatly sought after as polo ponies by the British in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They were even crossed with Arabian blood to help improve the breed for polo.

Manipuri ponies have a light head, a wide chest, and a well-muscled body. They stand between 11-13 hands tall and come in just about every color. Polo ponies are still popular today.

6. Zanskari

Zanskari horse in the Indian mountains Joe Ravi / Shutterstock.com

The Zanskari is a small mountain breed of pony native to Ladakh, in northern India. The breed is named after the Zanskar valley.

Zanskari ponies are closely related to Spiti ponies and Tibetan horse breeds. This hardy breed is capable of withstanding treacherous mountain conditions including frigid temperatures and altitudes of 3000-5000 meters above sea level. They used to number in the thousands, but now there are only a few hundred.

Zanskari ponies are compact and robust, having thick chests. They are typically 11.3-13.3 hands tall and gray in color, however they may also be bay, chestnut, or back. Because of its strength, the Zanskari breed is mostly used as a packhorse.

7. Bhimthadi

Bhimthadi horse from India

The Bhimthadi, also known as the Deccani horse, is a unique Indian breed that is almost extinct. The breed was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries by crossing Arabian and Turkic breeds with local ponies.

Bhimthadi horses were previously highly sought after by Indian emperors. They were a popular choice as a warhorse and were used to fight the Mughal army. The Martha army held these little horses in great respect.

Their numbers plunged under British administration, and now there are just around 100 horses left, while attempts are being done to rescue this breed.

Bhimthadi horses have a light but muscular build and are often bay, roan, or brown. Pack labor, ordinary riding, and driving are all examples of their use.

8. Chummarti

Chummarti horse transporting goods in India

The Chummarti breed is Himalayan in nature, originating in the Chummarti Valley and mostly found in Himachal Pradesh. They are a small mountain breed that is capable of withstanding tough conditions.

The Chummarti pony resembles the Spiti pony. They are a hardy breed, able to withstand frigid winters at high elevations as well as scorching summer days. They are also a gaited breed, making them a smooth horse for riding.

Chummarti ponies are tough and compact, with a well-muscled physique. They are 13 hands or less tall and available in a variety of coat colors. These dependable ponies make fantastic load horses.

9. Sikang

The Sikang horses have been used as warhorses for many years, including in WWII. They have a long and rich history, despite the fact that they are not yet a recognized breed.

During WWII, the U.S. Army led 2,000 horses through the Sikang province, however, not all the horses were able to make it past the treacherous terrain. The horses that were left behind established semi-feral groups.

Several of these semi-feral horses were caught and bred with indigenous Indian stock by locals. As a result, the horse became stronger, taller, and more muscular. Sikang horses vary in height and color, but they are known for their eagerness to please.

Related Questions

  • Which is the most famous horse in India?

    The Marwari or Malani is a rare breed of horse from Rajasthan’s Marwar (or Jodhpur) district in northwestern India. It is closely related to the Kathiawari breed of the Kathiawar peninsula of Gujarat, with which it shares an unusual inward-curving shape of the ears.

  • Which horse breed is best in India?

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    There are five indigenous horse breeds in India: the Marwari, Kathiawari, Zanskari, Manipuri, and Spiti. Of them, the Marwari and Kathiawari are the most well-known, their “lyre” ears which bend inwards and can be rotated 180 degrees being the only sort in horse breeds around the world.

  • What is the top 5 most popular horse breeds?

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