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The Kathiawari shares it’s early origins with the Marwari horse of Indian, but having been bred in a different region, has acquired a different name. The environment and selected breeding lines have also differentiated the Kathiawari.
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT
The Kathiawari horse comes from India’s north western coast, the Kathiawar Peninsula, although the breed also now populates Maharashtra, Gujerat and southern Rajasthan.
The precise origins of the breed were not recorded but the Kathiyawari horse was developed prior to 1526 and the beginning of the reign of the Moghul Emperors from a native stock of mixed type. Some of this stock derived from the Kabuli and Baluchi (breeds from the north) which were in turn derived from desert horses and steppe horses. Many such “types” and breeds often had the typical curved ears and dry head of the current Kathiawari. The pacing ability of the modern breed has derived likewise.
After the Moghuls and under the British Raj, Arabian horses joined the mix, having been imported from South Africa as well as the Arabian Gulf.
Princes were the breeders of the Kathiyawari horse, and each prince’s house concentrated on its own strain which was then often named after a particular foundation mare of that strain. There are twenty-eight such strains that are still recognized.
From earliest times the breed was well known and prized for it beauty and high status as a war horse, and like most desert breeds could and can survive heat, poor feed and low water intake.
In the early 1800’s the “kattywar” hoarse was considered by the Mahratta and British cavalry to be greatly superior to all others. The Bombay Gazetter of Kathiawar, in 1880, described the breed in great detail.
The current Kathiyawari is still used throughout India by the police as well as being highly valued in its native area.
Today, the registry is handled by the Kathiawari Horse Breeders’ Association and at Junagadh, the Government runs a stallion station along with supporting and maintaining a small band of brood mares. For nominal fees, villagers can bring their mares to selected stallions.
While resembling an Arabian generally, the breed is also highly distinctive. The extreme curve of the ears, with tips touching, and highly mobile ears, are unique. At times this feature has been a goal of some breeders, over other more important features.
The very best Kathiawari horses are very attractive and are often less that 15 hands in height, with limbs lighter in bone than many western standards. Colors are varied, but often dun is found with a dorsal stripe which proclaims a long history reaching back to the primitive, true wild horse (Sorraia, or Tarpan).
Also, from the heritage of long ago pacing horses of Turkestan , Iran and Afghanistan, the Kathiawari is famous for performing the “revaal”, a fast, comfortable, pacing gait.
As is typical in areas of hot, dry climate and poor soil, less well bred specimens of the breed show a more uncertain temperament, sharply sloping hind quarters and conformational faults in the hind legs.
The exotic beauty of the Kathiawari has been maintained and the horse is known for its proud carriage, gracefulness and distinctive head and unique ears, shared only by the likewise native Marwari breed. Characteristics of stamina remain great, along with vitality of action. They are a long lived breed and hardy, and adapt to various life styles. Both the Kathiawari and Marwari breeds have evolved from one of the worlds more ancient breeds and are beautiful, tireless and highly competitive, with great personality. .