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Horse Breeds
First Posted: July 7, 2009
Sep 24, 2010

Marwari Horse/Malani A Gaited Breed

Marwari Horse

Country of Origin: India

Video of the Marwari Horse of India

Video of the Marwari Horse of India

The Marwari or Malani is a breed of horse from India. It is known for its inward-turning ear tips, and comes in all colors, although pinto colors tend to be the most popular. It is a hardy breed, and quite similar to the Kathiawari, another Indian breed. Many members of the breed exhibit a natural pacing gait. The Marwari descended from native Indian ponies crossed with Arabian horses, with the possibility of some Mongolian influence.

The Marwari was initially bred by the Rathores, traditional rulers of the Marwar region of India. Beginning in the 12th century, they promoted strict breeding that promoted the purity and hardiness of the breed. The Marwari has been used throughout history as a cavalry horse by the people of the Marwar region, and was noted for its loyalty and bravery in battle. The breed deteriorated in the 1930's, but today has regained some of its popularity. The Marwari is used for light draft and agricultural work, as well as riding and packing. In the 1990's a breed society was formed for the Marwari in India, and in the 2000's horses have begun to be exported to the United States and Europe.


The Marwari averages between 15 and 16 hands (60 to 64 inches, 152 to 163 cm) high. They have an outside range of 14 and 17 hands (56 to 68 inches, 142 to 173 cm) high, depending on the geographic origin of the horse. Horses that receive a nutritious diet from the time they are foals tend to be taller and larger in general. They can be bay, gray, chestnut, palomino, piebald or skewbald. Multi-colored horses are especially favored by Indian breeders. The breed's facial profile is straight, and the ears are pointed, with inward turning tips. The neck is slender, running into pronounced withers, a deep chest and fairly straight shoulders. Marwaris generally have a long back and sloping croup. The legs tend to be slender, and the hooves small but well-formed. Members of the breed are hardy, being easy keepers, but can also be of tenacious and unpredictable temperaments. They are quite similar to the Kathiawari horse, another breed from India.

The Marwari often exhibits a natural pacing gait, called the *revaal or *rehwal. Hair whorls and their placement are important to breeders of Marwaris. Horses with long whorls down the neck are called devman and considered lucky, while horses with whorls below their eyes are called anusudhal and are unpopular with buyers. There are correct proportions that horses are expected to have, based on the width of a finger, said to be the equal of five grains of barley. For example, the length of the face should be between 28 and 40 fingers, and the length from the poll to the dock should be four times the length of the face.


The Marwari breed descends from native Indian ponies crossed with Arabian horses. The Arabians possibly came ashore from a cargo ship wrecked off India's west coast. The ponies were small and hardy, but with poor conformation; the influence of the Arabian blood improved the appearance without removing the hardiness. There is also the possibility of some Mongolian influence from the north. The breed probably originated in northwest India on the Afghanistan border, as well as in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. They take their name from the Marwar region (also called the Jodhpur region) of India. When the Moguls captured northern India in the early 1500's, they brought Turkoman horses that were probably used to supplement the breeding of the Marwari.

The Rathores, traditional rulers of Marwar and successful Rajput cavalry, were the traditional breeders of the Marwari. The Rathores lost their Kingdom of Kanauj in 1193, and subsequently withdrew into the Great Indian and Thar Deserts. The Marwari breed was vital to their survival, and during the 12th century they followed strict selective breeding processes, keeping the finest stallions for the use of their subjects. During this time, the horses were considered divine beings, and at times they were only allowed to be ridden by members of the Rajput families and the Kshatriyas warrior caste. The breed was renowned during this period for their bravery and courage in battle, as well as their loyalty to their riders. During the late 16th century, the Rajputs of Marwar, under the leadership of Moghul emperor Akbar, formed a cavalry force of over 50,000 members. Over three hundred years later, during World War I, Marwar lancers under Sir Pratap Singh assisted the English.

During the 1930's the Marwari breed deteriorated. The intervention of Maharaja Umaid Singhji saved the breed, although its purity is in doubt again today and Umaid Singhji's grandson, Maharaja Gaj Singh II, also worked to save the breed. Due to indiscriminate breeding practices, as of 2001 only a few thousand purebred Marwaris existed.

Today, the Indigenous Horse Society of India is responsible for setting breed standards and maintaining the breed. In 1995, a British horsewoman named Francesca Kelly founded a group called Marwari Bloodlines with the goal of promoting and preserving the Marwari horse around the world. Marwari Bloodlines is now a program run by the Royal Equestrian and Polo Centre, the largest Marwari breeding farm in India. In 1999, Kelly and Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod, a descendent of Indian nobility, led a group that founded the Indigenous Horse Society of India, a group that works with the government, breeders and the public to promote and conserve the breed. Kelly and Dunlod also worked to promote the breed through entering, and winning, endurance races at the Indian national equestrian games, and convincing the Equestrian Federation of India to sanction a national show for indigenous horses - the first in the country. The pair worked with other experts from the Indigenous Horse Society to develop breed standards, which are now agreed upon by most veterinary departments and research centers in India. Owners and breeders who wish to compete in national breed shows or export horses must register with the society. The first Marwari horse was imported to the United States by Kelly in 2000. The first Marwari was imported to Europe in 2006, when a stallion was given to the Living Museum of the Horse.

Marwari horse show jumping. Research studies have been conducted to examine the genetics of the Marwari breed and their relationship to other Indian and non-Indian horse breeds. Six different breeds have been identified in India, being the Marwari, Kathiawari, Spiti pony, Bhutia pony, Manipuri and Zanskari. These breeds are distinct from each other based on unique performance traits and different agroclimactic conditions in the various areas of India where they originated. A 2005 study was conducted to identify past genetic bottlenecks in the Marwari breed, and it was found that, in the DNA of the horses tested, there was no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in the breed's history. However, since the population numbers have decreased rapidly in past decades, bottlenecks may have occurred that were not identified in the study.[8] In a 2007 study, the Marwari was found to be the most genetically distinct breed amongst five of the six Indian horse breeds studied. The other breeds were the Spiti pony, Bhutia pony, Manipuri and Zanskari.


The Marwari is for riding, packing and light draft and agricultural work. Marwaris are often crossed with Thoroughbreds to breed a larger horse with more versatility. Despite the fact that the breed is indigenous to the country, cavalry units of the Indian military make little use of the horses, though they are popular in the Jodhpur and Jaipur areas of Rajasthan, India. They are particularly suited to dressage, in part due to a natural tendency to perform. Marwaris are also used to play polo, sometimes playing against Thoroughbreds.

*Amble, Rehwal, Revaal, Rabia or Rewal Gait

The kathiawari and marwari breeds horse of India have this gait. This style is also very popular among horses of Muslim countries. This gait is accomplished by making the maximum use of all the muscles of the horse. Although not considered a natural gait such as the walk, trot or canter, it is natural to these breeds. It is an extremely smooth gait that can range from a slow gait to extremely fast. There are competitions that are held where a glass of water is held on a tray. The horse gaits and the idea is to not spill any water. The gait is a -4-beat gait of some sort. It can be anything from a stepping pace to a running walk to an amble, etc.

Of Interest:

In the Indian Marwari breed, few will consider buying a horse with a whorl positioned below the horse's eyes as it is considered a bad omen; however, a long whorl down the neck is known as a 'Devman' and believed to be lucky.

Anusudhal whorls - Horses with whorls below their eyes are called anusudhal and are unpopular with buyers. Horses with whorls below the eyes usually have above average intelligence and are likely to make a nuisance of themselves by opening gates, etc.


Marwari Horse

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