THE FIRST EXPORT OF HORSES FOR INDIAN ARMY

THE FIRST EXPORT OF HORSES FOR INDIAN ARMY

Shipping Horses for the Indian Market 1875. Etching by S. Calvert Courtesy State Library V.

Shipping Horses for the Indian Market 1875. Etching by S. Calvert Courtesy State Library V.


In 1836 Captain Collins landed in Sydney after he received a letter from the Madras Army authorising him to purchase Australian horses on their behalf. Collins purchased horses in Australia at an average price of £58 Pounds (590 Madras Rupees). These were not the first horses exported from Australia to India. There are various accounts of horses being export to India before this time. Indeed as far back as 1816 when Captain Browne offered to exchange Mauritian rum for Australian bred horses that he then intended to sell in India at a profit.

The reason for this interest in Australian horses was that at that time the 3 Royal Studs in India were in a grip of a disease that resembled “Strangles” and as a result of this and other factors the types of horses that were being produced at the Royal Studs were in decline. It was also quite expensive to breed and keep a horse until it was strong enough to take to the battlefield. In fact, it was estimated that the cost of producing each Royal Bred Stud horse was approximately £71 (721 Madras Rupees). By importing Australian horses the English Armies in India saved approximately of £13 (130 Madras Rupees) for each horse imported and received a horse that was bigger, stronger and of a much higher quality.

The experiment with the Madras Army proved quite successful and all of the Armies in India purchased Australian horses to assist with their requirements from that time on. The supply of horses from Australia varied depending upon the economic conditions in England, and the political mindset of the Government of the day in England. However, the most overwhelming factor for the supply of horses to India was the military engagements that were or were not raging at any given time. This inconsistency of supply and demand was difficult for Australian horse breeders and horse owners in Australia to manage and at times caused much financial stress and hardship for them.

 

lenkenna-crystaljordan© Len Kenna and Crystal Jordan 2014

Are Indians An Ethnic Minority? Vols. 1-5

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