All the King’s horses

Flag of India

By MAHESH RANGARAJAN
DECCAN CHRONICLE

The idea of the Arab horse, or the Persian, as a vastly superior breed would have been familiar in the days it was not just a ditty to hum or a song to sing. Amir Khusrau has written of “Sea borne, mountain and Tatar steeds” that took Ghazi Malik to the throne. It may not hold true today but for centuries it was the horse and its quality that held the key to power. It is a time that has vanished and a world we have lost.

For the best horses in India have, by tradition, been imports. There were local breeds of horses, like the Kathi horse commemorated in a special postage stamp by the Nawab of Junagadh. And there were other indigenous breeds in the Deccan, sturdy ponies used by the Maratha irregular troops who were the bane of the Mughal imperial armies three centuries ago.

Persian Horse and Man
Persian Horse and Man. Print of original antique lithograph made in 1824. Notice the curled ears, a characteristic of the breed.

They were small, hardy and swift and could live off the land without special fodder. They were ideal for the Bargis, or the irregular Maratha forces themselves, more suited to the terrain than the horses of their rivals. Local breeds were also found in parts of the Himalayas, and in a very different setting in the Lakhi jungles of Sindh.

Today, feral horses thrive in at least one remarkable Indian national park, Dibru Saikhowa, on the south bank of Brahmaputra in Assam.

It is like a fairy tale: horses run wild in the tall-grass wet savannah in an island made by Asia’s great river, the Brahmaputra.

Read the full fascinating report on the country of India and how the horse shaped their part of the world at Deccan Chronicle.

1 thought on “All the King’s horses”

  1. I really enjoy reading of the Horses from different parts of the world and the association with our cultures. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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