Farmers in south-west Punjab have adopted horse breeding as an allied profession. The fertile soil and green pastures give Punjab a natural advantage to breed racehorses cheaply.
The potential was exploited by the Brars in Muktsar who took up horse breeding way back in 1973 with just two mares, and are now the proud owners of about 100 mares, half a dozen stallions, and 75 foals.
Tegbir Singh Brar, a third generation breeder and the owner of the 100-acre Dashmesh Stud Farm at Sarainaga village in Muktsar, said that animal husbandry is a great allied industry.
“We got a lot of people involved in this. Some keep two mares and some three. The mares are bred, that is we produce the babies from them. The mares would be brought here for breeding with our stallions. Then the horses are taken for sale,” said Brar.
“I can guarantee you that it’s definitely better than farming. By selling horses for riding, you make more money than farming,” said Brar.
Farmers in Malwa region have taken up rearing indigenous breeds to supplement their unpredictable agricultural income.
Jaswinder Singh of village Wada Daraka, owns 15-acres of agricultural land, but also carries out horse-breeding because he found it difficult to make both ends meet by depending solely on the output from his farm.
“Small farmers breed horses along with farming and earn some extra money. The general trend in this region is that farmers breed a couple of horses and sell their progeny to earn extra money,” said Jaswinder.
Brar wishes the horse business prospers in the State. He wants a race course in Punjab and a tax rebate in the export-import of mares.
Brar said: “If we were to open a race course in Punjab, the future will be really bright. We have got a culture for it and people would love it. I think Punjabis are true horsemen.”
“The way Nihang Sikhs ride, I don’t think there are any people in the country as natural on horses as these people are,” said Brar.
At least a dozen of the 60 stud farms of Thoroughbreds (a horse breed best known as a race horse) in the country are in Punjab, and it is estimated that at least 200 racehorses out of the 1300 produced in the country annually come from the State.
India exports racehorses to Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius and some other nations though their value remains small.