Kathiawari – from war horse to friend

In a rural location such as ours the locals rely heavily on animals – sheep, goats, cows and water buffalo all play a major role in agriculture whilst dogs are useful for ‘garbage disposal’.  At the other end of the spectrum many wealthy Indians see the owning of expensive pedigree dogs as a status symbol, although they often have little knowledge of how to care for them properly.


It is similar with horses, and we have recently purchased a Kathiawari horse (which was very thin and unfit) from a local Indian.  There was no intentional cruelty or neglect involved in the care of this animal before he came to us, merely a lack of knowledge on the owners part and a lack of skills amongst his employees.  So, Raja has come to live with us at Lakeside.



The Kathiawari are an amazing breed of horse which was originally bred in north India for desert warfare, the ideal characteristics being that they could survive on minimal rations during campaigns over long distances and rough terrains.  They were bred from a mixture of native horses and imported Arabian stock and ownership was limited to the ruling families, hence the ‘status symbol’ of owning one today.  The Kathiawari are not large horses (maximum height around 15 hands) and appear to be rather thin and bony in the leg to the western eye.  They are, however, a very sound breed of horse, high-spirited, intelligent and affectionate.

Raja six weeks after coming to Lakeside


I have no pictures of Raja when he first came to Lakeside, but after six weeks he was beginning to fill out, although lacking in muscle tone.






Raja five months after coming to Lakeside

Now, some five months after I bought Raja, he is a healthy weight and much fitter than before although he still needs to develop a little more muscle tone.  I feel very lucky to be able to ride out around the lake or through the coconut groves on this magnificent animal who is so quick to learn and eager to please.



One unusual trait of the Kathiawari is that their ears curve inwards and touch at the tips which gives them a very intelligent look.  There is only one other breed of horse (also Indian) which shares this characteristic.  The number of Kathiawari horses declined after Indian Independence until there were only a few thousand in existence and they were verging on extinction, but thankfully the numbers are now increasing and these beautiful horses are here to stay.




11 thoughts on “Kathiawari – from war horse to friend

  1. He is a lovely horse and got to know him quite well when we were staying with you. You have done wonders with him and give him lots of love.

  2. Fascinating, thanks so very much for this lesson — and helping such an amazing animal. Sharing with my family (rescuers of thoroughbreds!). It’s a shame that there isn’t some sort of education campaign for these gentleman farmers…

    • Thanks for your message, and please pass on my best wishes to your family. Rescuing thoroughbreds (or any animal) is so worthwhile. I’m an optimist and so believe that people will (eventually) learn how to behave responsibly and care for animals properly.

  3. Thank you for taking Raja in. The circle of life spins in funny ways. This weekend I read an article on katiawadi horses and how they are being brought back slowly because of an increasing demand for them in the marriage season. And then I read about you rescuing Raja. And that you live close to Madurai. I was born in Madurai and remember it with great fondness.
    Good luck with your blog! I enjoyed reading it. Maybe we will visit Lakeside some day. 🙂 And oh, please give Raja a big hug for me! I love horses. All life forms actually.

  4. Pingback: В своей обычной ипостаси

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