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Five rare breeds you may not know about *H&H Plus*

Curly ears, ‘blonde’ manes and self-fracturing hooves are distinctive features of some of the world’s more unusual breeds. Martha Terry checks them out...

Here at H&H Towers, we like to think we know a bit about horses, but every day new facts surprise us. Did you know that William Fox-Pitt once contested a World Championship on a rare breed mare? Or that a Polish pony is being used to restore British wetland habitats? Brazil’s national horse numbers over half a million in its own land – but just one has found its way to our shores. Our competition arenas may be full of Connies, Dutch warmbloods and thoroughbreds, but looking further afield, here are five unusual breeds with their own USPs.

Marwari

In a nutshell: an indigenous breed descended from an Indian warhorse, with “curly” ears touching at the tips. The breed is thought to go back to 2000BC.
Height: 15hh–16hh
Rarity: although there are none in England, they are not on any rare breeds list. They almost became extinct in the mid-20th century, but have been revived by the Indigenous Horse Society of India. Prospects for the breed have greatly improved over the past decade due to increased publicity and awareness of  horse welfare.
Distinctive features: the Marwaris’ curved ears can be rotated 180 degrees to avoid sand entering. The ears are the first characteristic to be lost when crossed with another breed.
Price: an average riding horse is around £2,000–£8,000, though some stallions reach £100,000.

Caroline Moorey is chairman of the UK-based Friends of Marwari which, in partnership with the Indigenous Horse Society of India, works to promote the breed to a global audience even though there are no Marwaris here, due to it being on a restricted export list, as well as quarantine regulations.