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THE HORSE-SUPPLY IN INDIA.
The clouds still lower threaten- considered, is the fact that the ingly on the frontiers of our East- greater part of its most important ern empire, and however firmly constituents are not native to the and securely settled that empire land in which that army has to may appear to be, there are many operate, but have to be drawn influences beneath its smooth and from distant, and, if the command quiet surface which, though quies- of the seas was interfered with at cent at present, still prove, by suffi- any time, precarious sources of ciently distinct signs from time to supply. It is well known to every time, that they are only sleeping, one what a constant expenditure and may, if they ever have an op- there is of the European officers portunity of breaking forth, show and men who form the indispensthemselves with dangerous if not able backbone of the armed forces fatal effect. Physical power has of the three Presidencies; and posformed and established the vast sibly it may be generally partially sovereignty which England wields realised how elaborate are the arover the most civilised, fertile, and rangements which have to be carwealthy portion of Asia; and it ried out to fill the gaps which, is only by maintaining that power even in peace - time, show themunimpaired in force and efficiency selves yearly in their ranks, and that she can hope to be able to to keep them duly supplied with await with calm confidence a pos- the complicated and scientific insible breaking storm on the bor- struments of modern war. Our ders of her dominions, or an up- business at present, however, is heaval and convulsion in their not with these points; but we centre. Physical power in the would wish to direct attention to East means essentially military a matter less known, and almost force; and the necessity of main- equally important-viz., the means taining in India an army complete at our disposal for supplying, in in all its parts, and strong in its sufficient numbers and of suffiorganisation and means of supply, ciently good quality, the horses has always been fully recognised, which are to mount our cavalry, and never more so than it is to- British and native, and which are day. Many of the best soldiers to take their places in the teams who are now in their country's of the Royal Artillery. service devoting all their Asia is, more than any other, talents and energy to securing the land of mounted warriors, and their country's dominions and in all its historic struggles and maintaining its assured supremacy conquests crowds of horsemen in that distant land ; and every have ever taken a distinguished lesson that has been taught by late part.
If in the future we struggles in all parts of the world compelled to guard our frontier or has been by them eagerly learned, to maintain our internal dominion and its teaching is being carefully by force of arms, masses of cavalry applied.
and numerous batteries of wellOne of the greatest difficulties horsed artillery will play a most which arises when the question of important and perhaps decisive maintaining our Indian army is part in the contest; and if it is
remembered what enormous dis- tribes which pitch their black tances have to be traversed, buth horse-hair tents in the vast disto arrive at and to occupy any trict of Najd in Arabia, and in possible theatre of war, the physi- the lands on both sides of the cal difficulties which in addition Tigris and Euphrates. are always presented by the con- For many years Arabs were ditions of climate and country, sought for and prizeu above all and the enormous demands which other horses for use in sport and are consequently made for the war in India, and it may be expenditure of purely animal worth while here to quote the force, it may be conceived with description of an exceptionally what magnitude the question of perfect animal, such ashorse-supply shows in the eyes of the military chiefs and organ- In his lifetime has one that outrivals
“Every sportsman, they say, isers of India.
the rest, In our Indian army it is the general custom to arrange all the The gentlest, the gamest, the boldest, horses which are found in its rank3
the best.” under five heads-as Arabs, Per- Major Shakespeare thus details sians, Northerns, country - breds, the points of the "pearl of his and Australians or Walers; but casket” in his book on the wild these again include a very large sports of India :variety of classes and many distinct breeds. In days not long since “She was the most beautiful mare gone by, many excellent horses, I have ever seen, of pure Najd blood, which knew no superiors for mili- grey, with flea-bitten spots, eyes too tary purposes, were imported from large for her head, nostril thin and the Cape of Good Hope; but this the hair of her mane and tail so fine
expanded, the throat of a game-cock, source of supply has now been and soft that the most beautiful wogiven up, and though many horses man might have been proud of such are still to be procured in that texture, and her skin so thin and soft colony, it is very doubtful whether that the thorn-bushes through which any animals of the old and speci- I rode her used to tear it; and after ally valuable stamp are now to be many of my runs through the jungle, found.
I have had her, bleeding from the
thorns, looking as if she had been Whatever our opinion may be practised upon with a light sabre. as to the actual value of the Arab She was what you would consider for military or other purposes, we in England a pony, 14 hands in must still regard him with the inches high; but she was as broad amount of veneration that is due almost as a dray-horse, and her tail to old and unsullied descent, and was set up so high, that, as she moved the halo that surrounds centuries
about her loose-box, you could, stoopof great deeds and noble tradi. Her feet were black and hard, and
ing, walk between it and the ground. tions. The pure blood of the the tendons below her hocks and desert flowed in the veins of the knees were like harp-strings. Add sires of all the best horses in the to this that her head was so lean that world, and the characteristics of you might have boiled it without obthe various breeds in different taining any flesh from it, and you hemispheres are only the results
have a .picture of what this desert
born mare was." of country and climate on offshoots from the stock, which is Till comparatively recent times, still found among the wandering a very large number of the horses required for the army in India horses, except the very few stray were Arabs, and the great mart animals which are brought by indito which they were brought was viduals from the dealers' stables at Bombay. Here the wants of the Bombay. Melancholy indeed is it Bombay and Bengal armies were to stand in the great open space at provided for by purchasing-com- Bangalore, where the horse-dealers mittees. The horses destined used to congregate with their stock, for the Madras army and the which is still called the Arab Lines. south of India were landed at The cry of the place is Ichabod. Mangalore, and from there were of all the bargaining crowd only marched by the native dealers to one feeble old man is left, who the remount depot at Husur, near realised a competency in the busiBangalore. The remount agent ness, and still creeps about in then took his pick according to the turban and caftan, and still tells requirements of the service which tales of the brave days of old, when he represented, paying an average he was one of those who provided price of Rs. 425 to Rs. 500 per horses for soldiers and civilians horse, and the remainder were whose names are history. taken to Bangalore, where they The general run of Arabs are no found a ready sale. Many ani- doubt first-rate horses, as far as mals also found their way to they go, for military purposes, but Hyderabad and Madras, and some they are too small to mount satiswent south to Ceylon. The ample factorily any but native cavalry. horse-supply which thus came to There are, of course, exceptional the south of the peninsula has, animals which have size and power however, entirely ceased, on ac- enough for anything, but they are count of the action of the Govern- so few that they may be left out ment of India, which a few years of the general estimate which we ago ordered that all arniy pur- take of the race. For any soldier chases of Arabs should be made in whose weight is such that he can Bombay itself, thus striking a fatal be mounted on an Arab, he will be blow at the enterprise of dealers, found the hardiest, soundest, and who had been quite contented to most docile of war-horses. He run the risks of the long journey will do an enormous amount of to Bangalore, with the certainty work on very little and very indifof both a military and civil market, ferent food, and will always bear but who would not undertake it himself well and handsomely. In when the military wants were one point only is he, more than provided for in Bombay, and other horses, susceptible of disease, they were tempted by the civil and that is his eye, which is liable market alone. The present state to cataract. His great characterof affairs is this, that Government istic is bis undaunted pluck, which has to pay as much at Bombay for is never more clearly shown than the Arab horses required by the when by any chance he is ill, when Madras army as it formerly used all veterinary surgeons will allow to do at Husur; and it has, in that he is a most admirable patient, addition, to meet the expense of resisting and throwing off the moving the horses many hundred effects of illness or treatment in a miles to the military centres, while way that no horse of another race the whole civil population of the can equal. south of India is entirely deprived Persian horses have always been of any chance of purchasing Arab found among the most generally useful remounts in India, and they easily have been encouraged and take their place both in the ranks again developed into a most valuof cavalry and in gun-teams. They able source of horse-supply, if the have more power and size than Government of India had seen fit Arabs, with much of the same con- to do so. stitutional good qualities, and—a One of the breeds of horses matter of great importance to the which are classed as “ Northerns" State—they are generally cheaper deserves special notice ; and it must in price. The available supply, always be with a feeling of deep however, is small, and it is only in regret that we see the Turcomans, the Bombay army that they are "that splendid and enduring race found in any number. There, be- of Arabs, which, from the peculisides filling the ranks of the cavalry, arities of the soil, now equal English the batteries are generally provided thoroughbreds in size and resemble with Persians as the centre and them in appearance," permanently lead horses; but these have not in the hands of a rival Power. All sufficient weight to be placed as travellers in Turkistan have agreed wheelers, and the severe work of in the opinion that, for war serthe teams in that position is done vice, the horses of the Tekke Turby the more solid and weighty comans know no equals. Colonel Australians.
Baker (now Lieutenant - General The name “ Northern," though Valentine Baker Pasha) was especian official Indian term in horse ally struck by their excellence, and classification, is vague. The Nor- used the words which have been thern horses really come from quoted-adding, that “it is sineither Herat or Cabul, which were gular that the magnificent breed formerly the two great markets for which is to be found in such numAsiatic horses; and to these two bers among the Turcomans,
has places horses from all parts were never made its way on any large sent for sale—from Biluchistan and scale into Hindostan.” Turkistan, from the valleys between Few indeed, and comparatively Herat and Cabul, and from beyond indifferent in quality, are the Turthe Hindoo Koosh.
comans which we have seen in our Many people think that the ranks; but few as they are, they Government of India or their re- have well maintained the character sponsible agents have made a mis- of the steeds which have rendered take in discontinuing, to so large an the rapid and far-reaching Tekke extent as they have done, the use chapaoul raid, a name of of this source of supply. In the dread to the dwellers in the heart days when Northern horses were of Persia. In very recent times, bought freely, and when a great before the Russian dominion had proportion of the cavalry in India made such enormous forward (both British and native) were strides in Central Asia, the Turcomounted on them, there was no lack man tribes were the strongest bulof them. Dealers went annually wark which resisted its onward to Herat and Cabul, marched their wave; and experienced politicians purchases down to Kurrachee, and advocated the idea that England shipped them to Bombay and Man- should not only cherish the friendgalore. There was a temporary ship of Afghanistan, but that the check in this trade, no doubt, at Tekke tribes should be encouraged the time and on account of the to attach themselves to that Power Afghan war; but it might very as a semi-independent state, a com
bination that would have delayed eral question. If success in horseindefinitely Russia's acquisition of breeding in India is to be looked Merv, and prevented her from as- for on any great scale, it must be suming the threatening position due to the efforts of the English which she now holds. A magnifi- Government—and it is no cent force of over 200,000 of the thing that this subject should be finest light cavalry in the world considered of the highest importwould have operated with instead ance; and the power of providing of against us in our next great in the country to a great extent struggle in the East; and lastly, by for the wants of its own army establishing friendly relations with has always been looked upon as those wild tribes, we should have a most desirable object to be had a practically limitless source attained. of supply from which to draw re- It has been far too much the mounts for our own horsemen. custom to decry the old system of
The term “country-bred” in- breeding carried on by the stud cludes all the horses which are department, which cannot fairly be produced in the peninsula itself— said to have been a failure. The the distinct races Kattyawars, Dec- horses which it provided were very canees, &c.—the horses bred under good, of great endurance and blood, the encouragement and by the as- and sufficient numbers were prosistance of native rulers, and the duced to mount British cavalry supply which owes its existence to and artillery in the North-west the initiative and liberality of the Provinces. Some of these horses English Government. Of the old were among the best in the service; distinct races of the country, prob- and as a proof of their good qualably the Kattyawars were among ities, it may be recorded that, as the best, as they were marked by late as 1870, there were still to be extraordinary powers of endur- found efficient animals in artillery ance; but the breed has not been teams, which had taken their part, maintained in its original purity, and done their duty well, in the and as there were never very many long marches and severe work of of them, they may almost be con- the Mutiny campaigns. The opersidered to have ceased to exist. ations of the stud department were The same may be said of the abandoned on account of the very old stout and compact Deccanee expensive system which
was alhorses-on which, in times gone by, lowed to be carried on, under which so many warriors in the clouds of each remount cost an enormous Mahratta horsemen were mounted sum—sometimes as much as Rs. -and of the minor distinct strains 3000—before it entered the serof blood throughout India.
vice; but there can be no doubt To replace these practically ex- that the errors and defects of the tinct races, some of the native old department might have been rulers have made considerable ef- removed or amended, without findforts, and the Nizam especially has ing it necessary entirely to sweep been conspicuous for the money away an organisation whose final and energy which have been ex- results presented so much that pended in his dominions. It is was good and satisfactory. understood that he has bred some It is very doubtful whether, very good horses, but not in suffi- under present Government arrangecient numbers to be worth consid- ments, horse-breeding in India will eration in connection with the gen- ever produce the desired result of