A brown Kathiawari horse standing tall.

In This Article

  • History and Origins

  • Size

  • Breeding and Uses

  • Colors and Markings

  • Characteristics

  • Diet and Nutrition

  • Health and Behavior

  • Grooming

  • Kathiawari Horse for You

  • How to Adopt or Buy

  • More Horse Breeds

The Kathiawari is a rare breed of horse with inward curving ears originating in western India. Most commonly, this unique horse breed is seen in the color chestnut, but it can exhibit a variety of coat colors, except black. 

It was originally bred as a warhorse and cavalry mount, likely due to its tenacity and impressive endurance. But, as it has gained popularity, Kathiawari horses have found new roles and are commonly used for riding and sports as well as police horses.

Breed Overview

Weight: 600 to 650 pounds

Height: 15 hands (60 inches) and under

Best For: Riding, sports

Body Type: Stocky and muscular body; short muzzle with broad forehead; rounded nostrils; large eyes; ears curved inward

Life Expectancy: 25 to 30 years

Kathiawari Horse History and Origins

While the exact history of Kathiawari horses is not certain, experts believe this breed originated from the western Indian peninsular province of Kathiawar. These native horses were eventually crossed with Arab horses that were imported to India, which created the ancestors of the modern Kathiawari breed.

They were bred as a desert war horse prized for their quick pace and agility, paired with their sleek, strong body type. 

While the Kathiawari is still largely found in the peninsula of the same name, they can also be found in a few other regions in India.

Today, the government is in charge of maintaining studs, and the Kathiawari Horse Breeders’ Association holds a breed registry.

Kathiawari Horse Size

The Kathiawari is a relatively short horse breed, with the average individual measuring about 15 hands, or 60 inches. These horses weigh about 600 pounds, which is not especially heavy.

Despite their small, compact body type, the Kathiawari is quite muscular and strong with more endurance than many other breeds.

A brown Kathiawari horse with pricked ears.

A brown Kathiawari horse with pricked ears.

anakondaN / Getty Images

Breeding and Uses

Kathiawaris were originally bred to be desert war horses in 16th century India, but they are now used for a variety of purposes. The breed is a popular riding horse in India that is strong and agile enough to withstand multi-day trips on uncertain terrain.

Kathiawaris are also popular in sporting events and competitions and are even sought after by police departments to assist officers as they ride around town.

Colors and Markings

There is only one color not exhibited by the Kathiawari, which is black. While chestnut is the most typical color of the breed, individuals can also come in gray, bay, and dun variants. This breed is unique in that it often exhibits primitive markings such as zebra stripes on the legs, a dorsal stripe, and sometimes patchy, skewbald markings.

Unique Characteristics of the Kathiawari 

Upon first glance, it’s clear that the Kathiawari horse is unique. With a broad forehead and a short muzzle, its face is relatively small. But it is a well-proportioned horse.

A Kathiawari’s most unique feature is its ears. The ears of this breed curve inward, often overlapping. Breeders have focused on this quality throughout history, trying to preserve this unique appearance.

Kathiawaris are also noteworthy for their ability to survive on very little food and water and the fact that they are quite resistant to heat, which makes them a perfect match for the deserts of India.

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Apaloosa horse with brown spots on a cream colored coat

Apaloosa horse with brown spots on a cream colored coat

Diet and Nutrition

Kathiawaris are well suited to the desert, so they do not need large rations of food to live. The Kathiawari are relatively low-maintenance horses and do not have meticulous diet and nutrition needs. They enjoy munching on alfalfa, cereal sprouts, hay, and grass and, while they don’t need a ton of water to survive, they should be adequately hydrated with water.

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Common Health and Behavior Problems

The Kathiawari horse breed is generally physically sound. They don’t necessarily need a lot of special care and often don’t have health issues as they are bred to be strong and durable. They do, however, need to be exercised regularly and given adequate attention. This lovable breed will not tolerate being ignored.


Although not terribly high maintenance in terms of their grooming regime, after each outing, it’s important to brush your Kathiawari horse to remove any dirt or debris from their coat. Consider using a wet washcloth to further groom them, especially in sensitive areas like the face. Not only will you be keeping your horse clean, but you will also be making them happy with the special attention they crave.

Their mane and tails should also be brushed out regularly to prevent tangles from forming.


  • No common health issues

  • Loyal

  • Has stamina

  • Affectionate


  • Short in size

  • Does not like cold weather

Is the Kathiawari Horse Right for You?

First-time and long-time owners both agree that the Kathiawari is a great horse to own. They are known for their loyalty and affectionate disposition. Plus, they are a hardy breed that does not necessarily need special care to survive. They are well-suited to take on challenges that come with the desert’s harsh environment.

Kathiawaris do well in warm weather and are typically only found in India, so keep that in mind if you are interested in this breed. 

How to Adopt or Buy a Kathiawari

Kathiawaris are not easy horses to come by. Because most of their breeding has been taken over by the Indian government, you will need to go to officials if you are interested. You can also go through the Kathiawari Horse Breeders’ Association to find a Kathiawari for sale or adoption from a reputable breeder.

There are scams on the internet claiming to sell Kathiawaris, but buyers should be wary of these offers as it’s difficult to know whether or not a horse is a purebred Kathiawari without the proper paperwork and an inspection by a veterinarian.

Always be sure the horse you are adopting or purchasing comes with a clean bill of health.

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More Horse Breeds

The Kathiawari horse breed is extremely unique. If you loved learning about it, you may also be interested in these similar breeds:

  • Marwari
  • Arabian

Otherwise, you can check out all of our other horse breed profiles.

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