Care of horses in Lahore

Mughal horseshoe
Mughal horseshoe

The horse has always been a wanted commodity, both for personal use, as well as in warfare. But horses were loved too. People were ready to give their lives for horses. In Lahore various market for horses existed all the time. The local horses were caught and brought to town, but never fetched the kind of money, that Arab horses got here. Horses also came here from Mongolia and China, and of course Central Asia. And with these horses also came the horses experts, the specialists.

These Nalbands of Lahore knew the diseases of horses and the way to cure them. They knew the way to train them. A horse could learn to do anyhing. Under expert guidance, they became docile POLO horses and Sultan Qutub ud din Aibeg played Polo in Lahore all the time. They also became RACE horses and friendly races were held in Lahore, when there was nothing else to do. And the horses also became DANCING horses, a tradition which continues to this day. At wedding ceremonies we have the dance of horses, as well as national events like NATONAL HORSE AND CATTLE SHOW held under President Ayub Khan at Fortress Stadium Lahore.

The biggest market for horses was near the Taxalli Gate Lahore as well as outside the Delhi Gate, in the compound of Chowk Dara Shikoh. Dara Shikoh had a favourite horse by name of Sher-dil, and pictures of it exist today. The Sikhs were fond of horses too, and Ranjit Singh was ready to wage war on Afghanistan for the mare LAILA. Laila is one of the most famous horse of Lahore, and the saddle that Ranjit Singh used was in the Lahore Fort too, when it was stolen there by political persons. The reputation is that it was caught at the London Airport by British Customs. Nothing further is known.

Sher-dil of Dara Shikoh
Sher-dil of Dara Shikoh

The centre in Lahore for horse care was outside the Masjid Wazeer Khan, from where famous Nalbands conducted their business. Baba Imamuddin is a famous Farrier of Sikh times. But many of the mosques of Lahore were literally stable for horses of the Sikh Army and used as a fodder place for them. Fodder was cut in hand made machines by hand and available at many points. Even today we see them at points in Lahore. Drinking troughs of water for horses must have been there previously but were built on a brand new basis when the British took over Lahore. Some of these troughs of water are still there and very romantic. There was a famous trough of water near the Mazar of Nau-guzza of Lahore in Langa Mandi.

Many books on horses also written in Lahore, plain as well as illustrated ones. One famous manuscript made by Imam Baksh Lahori is world famous. Governor of Lahore Syed Abdullah also wrote a book on horses. Many mohallas in Lahore are named after horse riders, like the Mohalla of Chabuk Swaran, where the artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai was born on 21st September, 1897. All this history of Lahore is actually never written.

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