PetMD Editorial

Published Jan. 3, 2010

The Kathiawari is a rare horse from the Indian peninsula of Kathiawar. Most of the horses of this breed are descendants of the horses bred by royal families. Kathiawari horses are used primarily as a riding horse due to their temperament, strength and endurance.


Physical Characteristics


Due to the different selective breeding processes used by each individual family, around twenty horse families are recognized to belong to the Kathiawari horse breed. Each family has its own set of attributes. Some physical characteristics are common to many Kathiawari horses, such as the fact that they are all quick and strong.


The most striking feature of the Kathiawari horse is its ears, which touch each other.  This physical characteristic is often used to distinguish the pure breed from mixed bloodlines.


The Kathiawari horse has large eyes, a short muzzle, a large forehead, and big nostrils set in a concave head, itself set high on a short neck. It stands from 13.3 to 14.3 hands (53-57 inches, 135-145 centimeters). Its tail is set high. Each horse has proportional body structure and comes in a multitude of colors including some occasional piebald; however, there is no black Kathiawari.


Personality and Temperament


The Kathiawari is known for being an affectionate horse. It also has outstanding intelligence and an unwavering spirit. Kathiawari horses are also known for their bravery and loyalty; stories about seriously-wounded Kathiawari horses never abandoning their masters, even when in grave danger, are common in India.




The Kathiawari, aside from being resilient and well-adapted to severe weather conditions, can exist at starvation-level rations. Kathiawari horses do not need special care.


History and Background


The history of the Kathiawari horse breed is inexact. It is said to originate from the western Indian peninsular province of Kathiawar, located between the gulfs of Khambat and Kutch; obviously, its place of origin gave the horse its name.


It is believed that a few local horses were cross-bred with Arabian horses. During the early days of the breed, chiefs and princes in Kathiawar maintained the Kathiawari horse breed to produce strong and hardy warhorses that could take on a day-long battle. This horse-breeding tradition among the members of the Indian upper class continued until feudalism came to an end and India became an independent country. The Indian cavalry maintained its pool of Kathiawari horses up until the World War, however.


Today, the Kathiawari horses are being bred and reared in government-controlled stud farms and in private breeding farms in Saurashtra (the new name for Kathiawar) and other places. A Kathiawari stud farm in Junagadh, located in the south-western region of India, is controlled by the Gujarat State. These breeding centers are maintained to improve the local horse stock.

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