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Safeguarding indigenous horses, living heritage of India

From left to right: AK Jadeja (Jadeja Stud Farms); Dharmendra Patel (Patel Farms); Dhiren Kumar Patel (Shaurya Stud Farm); Dhiren’s son; Deepak Khanna (HorsesofIndia.com)

It is said that horse is the most sensitive and the most sensible creature of the animal world. Seeing these beautiful creatures in different stud farms of Gujarat, I was left spellbound. What was more surprising was the passion and love of the stud farm owners have for the horses. Having already attended the launch event of HorsesofIndia.com in New Delhi, I had the preliminary information of the initiative, but it was on ground zero that I felt the intensity and dedication of the horse breeders and people associated with the website.

Dharmendra Patel, from Patel Farms, with his favourites

On this trip, I got acquainted with Marwari horse breed, the most prominent one of the indigenous horse breeds. There are six breeds of Indian horses including Marwari, Bhutia, Kathiawari, Manipuri Pony, Zanskari and Deccani. While others are used for various activities, it is the Marwari horse that ruled and was part of royal cavalries including those of Maharana Pratap and Bajirao. But when Britishers captured the sub-continent, these horses were slowly replaced by thorough foreign breeds of horses be it for Army, Police work and even the Presidents cavalcade. Showing his concern for Indian horse breed, Dharmendra Patel, from Patel Farms further says, “Even after seventy years of Independence, the Indian Government still ignores the spectacular and strong breeds of Indian Horses and prefers thorough foreign breeds. This is causing loss to the exchequer.”

With this concern in mind, Deepak Khanna along with all the horse breeders across the country have started the website with an aim to keep a digital database as well as allow the world to know about the Indian horse breeds. The unanimous decision among the four stud farms from Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Maharashtra, is that even though the Indian Horse breeds are known for their looks, hardiness, stamina and survival skills, the need of the hour is for the Indian Government to initiate a dialogue around the preservation of heritage and history of Indian horses. The breeders and lovers have been involved in this passion of raising and the upkeep of the horses since nearly ten generations.

Horse lover and breeder AK Jadeja, from Jadeja Stud Farms, says, “Since people are ignoring Indian horse breeds, as a result, farmers who are rearing Indian breeds of horses are suffering. They sell the horses for half the price of their actual worth or at times even less, when they need money.” Indian horse breeds which form an integral part of the rich heritage of the country need immediate attention from the government and people alike to keep it alive.

Dhiren Kumar Patel, Shaurya Stud Farm, adds, “Something like this was the need of the hour today. While everyone talks about various other breeds of horses from across the world, there is very little known about the various traits that the Indian horse breeds possess. I am happy with the passion everyone is showing and I am sure it will go a long way in the preservation of the Indian breeds of Horses.”

Text and images by Supriya Aggarwal

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