Horse Breeds Young Rider

Meet the Marwari Horse

Your local stable is probably home to plenty of familiar horse breeds like Thoroughbreds and Arabians, but there’s one breed that you likely won’t find there: the Marwari. Native to India, the elegant Marwari is extremely rare. But once you learn about the Marwari, you’ll never forget it!

A Marwari horse in tradition Indian dress
Photo by Ashwin Bavadiya/Shutterstock

Marwari horses have a long history as war horses, and today’s Marwaris possess a wonderful combination of athleticism, hardiness, and bravery. They have long been prized as trustworthy and loyal horses, known for their stamina and adaptability. But there’s more: In addition to all of these wonderful qualities, the Marwari is an attractive and intelligent breed.

The Marwari’s most iconic physical trait is undoubtedly its unique ears, which curve in at the tips so that the ears touch each other. The breed has captured the interest of scientific researchers, and in 2014 they mapped the entire genome of a Marwari horse. In their results, they detected a strong Arabian influence, noted a gene variant that could be the cause of the curved ears, and discovered that the Marwari has a heightened sense of smell. (See, we told you they are extra-special!)

A portrait of India’s signature equine breed
The Marwari has a strong Arabian influence according to genetic testing, and a special gene for its curved ears. Photo by Anakondasp/Shutterstock

The Marwari Horse Society was established in 1998 in India, and the society works to promote and preserve the Marwari horses. India banned exportation of Marwari horses for many years, and there was only a short period of time in the early 2000s in which Marwaris were allowed to be exported to other countries.

The population of Marwaris in India is low (perhaps only 3,000), but because of the exportation ban, the global population is even lower. There are only a few dozen Marwaris in the United States.

A Marwari horse with its signature curved ears
A Marwari’s ears curl so much they touch at the tips! Photo Daria Koskova/Shutterstock

At a Glance

Colors: The Marwari is found in many colors, including bay, brown, chestnut and gray. Albino is considered a disqualification from registration.

Height: Although Marwari horses used to be smaller in the past (closer to pony size, thanks to their original native pony influence), today’s Marwaris typically range from 15 to 16.1 hands for males and 14.3 to 16.1 hands for females.

Did You Know: The Marwari hails from an area in India that’s sometimes called the Jodhpur region, which is the same place that riding jodhpurs got their name.

This article about the Marwari horse appeared in the August 2021 Mini Digital issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Samantha Johnson

Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. She loves Corgis and shares her home with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Peaches.


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