Film reveals plight of Marwari horses

A Marwari Horse at during filming at Dundlod Fort Heritage Hotel.
A Marwari Horse at during filming at Dundlod Fort Heritage Hotel.

A documentary film featuring the Marwari horse is in production with the hope it will raise awareness of the issues facing the indigenous Indian breed.

Marwari – War Horse of the Maharaja is the story of Bonnie, Kr. Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod and Francesca Kelly, and is expected to be released next year. Australian film company Frazzica Productions has begun post production of the documentary, which centres around the lifetime work of Bonnie and Francesca in addressing the plight of the Marwari horses in India, and their bid to change antiquated government laws that forbid the export of Mawari to better and kinder homes abroad.

Marwari horses recently performed at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in front of Her Majesty the Queen of England at Windsor castle. A contingent of over 30 dancers, horsemen and performers were led by Bonnie and Francesca. None of the Marwari horses at Windsor were from India.

The makers say it is a “no holds barred” story of two dedicated horse advocates, who are determined to return the Mawari horse to its revered place in India’s culture, it is visually stunning, confronting, and unforgettable.

Bonnie and Francesca, who are considered experts on the Mawari horse and are highly respected for their work, have protected bloodlines and founded The Indigenous Horse Society of India. At their own personal expense, they travel the world raising awareness of the difficulties facing these beautiful animals and attempting to raise funds to help them.

The Marwari horses have faced many challenges and were once, near extinction. However, the challenges they currently face could tip the precarious balance irretrievably. There is an export ban in place and breeders have excess stock, and they cannot afford to feed the horses.

“There are also cruel and inhumane horse training practices, much like the dancing bears, and many other issues ranging from drought to little to no professional veterinary care. There are equine “practitioners” but no vets in the breed’s home state of Rajasthan. And now, the only equine research center in the state of Rajasthan that provided at least some small help is at risk of closing down.”

Francesca Kelly and Kr. Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod (Bonnie).
Francesca Kelly and Kr. Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod (Bonnie).

The film shows the Hanumangarh Horse Fair in Rajasthan where Marwari breeders gather to discuss current issues and compete for honors.

Well-trained Marwari horses can fetch more than $US25,000 at these fairs. The horses are taught to dance and they become highly valuable to their owners by performing at wedding ceremonies and prestigious events – often their only income. In war times these moves where taught to avoid elephant strikes and to protect their riders. Unfortunately horses are sometimes trained cruelly instead of the correct way.

“Some of the scenes in this documentary will be disturbing to watch; but all of the trainers, owners, and breeders have one thing in common. They need help. Help in the form of education to show them a better way to treat the horses so they do not die painfully from illness; help in the form of training to show them more humane techniques to teach their horses to dance; and help from the outside world so they can obtain the kinder horse equipment being used by the western world.”

Then, in the midst of all the chaos, there is a glimmer of light and gentle compassion, when Bonnie and Francesca introduce filmmakers to Rafik. Francesca refers to Rafik as India’s finest horse trainer and he will leave a lasting impression. Rafik is an amazing family man, a kind, gifted horse trainer and a true Godsend for the Marwari horse.


» More on the Marwari breed


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