The Indian Army breeds some of the finest horses and the equines seem to have cemented their reputation as the force’s favourite gift to countries in the neighbourhood.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat presented seven animals – a stallion light breed, two brood mares, two gelds and two donkey stallions – to his Nepali Counterpart General Rajendra Chhetri earlier this week, during his four-day visit to the Himalayan country. The Indian Army’s horses are much sought after and sometimes given voluntarily as a goodwill gesture or following a request from a neighbouring army.
The Indian Army’s animal transport units play an important role in carrying rations and stores to remote posts where vehicles cannot reach.
The President of Nepal conferred the title of Honorary General of the Nepalese Army on General Rawat at a special investiture ceremony on March 29. The tradition is a reciprocal arrangement between the two countries that has continued uninterrupted since 1969. General Chettri was given the title of Honorary General of the Indian Army during his first official visit to the country in February 2016.
Nepal is not the first country to receive Indian Army’s horses. In 2008, then army chief General Deepak Kapoor handed over two stallions and four mares to the Bangladesh army as a token of goodwill and friendship. Kapoor handed over the reins of the horses to his Bangladeshi counterpart General Moeen U Ahmed at a special ceremony. The animals were bred at the army’s Remount Veterinary Corps stud farms at Hisar and Babugarh.
The transfer of horses has not always been smooth. A few years ago, the Sri Lankan army had sought six horses from India. The proposal, however, got stuck in red tape. Very promptly, the Pakistani Army stepped in and provided the horses that Sri Lanka had sought.
India did gift six horses to Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) in Diyatalawa for training two years ago but it was much after Pakistan had met the requirement. Sri Lankan cadets still hone their equestrian skills on the horses provided by India and Pakistan.
Army officials said Myanmar has also received horses as gifts from the Indian Army. Around a year ago, the army gifted 26 horses and mules to the neighbouring army. So impressed was the Myanmarese army with the well-bred animals that within a few months it bought 15 more horses from the Indian Army.
“Our horses are as sturdy as our men and in high demand,” said a senior officer, making a reference to Indian Army being sought after by other armies for conducting joint military training.