First thought to be odd-looking antelope, the first people to settle in the desert didn’t take much notice to the horses. When a virus wiped out the horses that had been brought across the sea, panic set over the villages in the desert. Too far to walk to any neighboring cities for help, the people were doomed. They needed the horses for transportation of essential goods, as a way of communication and to travel the great distances between cities.
Having escaped to the desert from the powers of government, the people were finding life tough and had been barely surviving. Accepting their fate, the people decided to go about their business and hope for a miracle. It was out one day that a gathering party saw one of the striped horses on the horizon. He was a lovely bay with stripy markings curving around his eyes. He was curious and came closer to the villagers. Behind him followed a small herd of mares, each with similar stripy markings. The villagers were astounded, for the year or so they had been living in the desert, not once had they seen these creatures.
Seeing an opportunity to save the villages, the people began to leave out treats for the horses and barrels of water to try and earn their trust. It was many months until the horses accepted human touch and began to trust the people. The people in the villages began to tame them, introducing them to a bridle and saddle. Once the odd-looking horses were tamed, they were put to work.
The horses’ great stamina and hardiness led them to become treasures of the desert. The people loved the horses and formed great companionships with them. As the population of Maarlos horses grew, they were recorded in a newly-created registry. The very same book that recorded the first Maarlos horses is still used today. With the horses providing the vital link between the desert cities and outside, the desert people were no longer in trouble.
Horses became an asset, if you had two or more horses, you were considered rich and well off. Breeders began to collect horses with desired markings and grew bigger and more diverse herds. The horses became a currency: the strongest were most desired for work, the fastest were desired for the letter runs. The competitiveness between the breeders reached a boiling point. To decide who bred the best horses a competition was devised; an endurance race to certain locations in the desert and a set amount of time to do it in.
The race was a success, bringing in tourists and foreigners who were interested in the horses. Realising business and money could be made from afar, the breeders began to auction off their horses to people around the world. The horses were popular in warmer countries where the horses were used for mustering and stock work. In stories told around the fire, Maarlos Horses were said to be a helping hands from the gods. They saved the villages from death and provide a business in the desert lands.
The Modern Maarlos Horse
Excerpt from Chapter Three from The Horses of the desert – the Maarlos Horses
The modern Maarlos horse is mostly used for pleasure, once tamed they are excellent general purpose horses.
Confromtation The Maarlos has a small – medium build, their height ranging from 13hh to 15.3hh. They resemble light riding horses from Europe, showing their ancestory. The smaller horses are great for children to try their hand at showing. Maarlos horses under 14hh are sometimes called Maarlos ponies.
Temperament Owing to their wild days, the Maarlos can be flighty and easily spooked. They don’t do well as stable horses, preferring wide open paddocks. There are exceptions, if you gain the horse's trust, they will happily settle down in a stable. The Maarlos have a nervous edge to them, anyone wanting to show their horse must first do a lot of hard work to desensitise them.
Aptitude in competition The Maarlos show aptitude for endurance races, lower grades of cross country / hunter and mounted games. Being smaller horses then those specifically bred for show jumping/cross country is their disadvantages in the high-level competitions.
Markings The Maarlos horse is unique in the face that it doesn't show any known horse markings, but those similar to African antelopes/gazelles (see markings chart in gallery)
Coat colours Common coat colours among the Maarlos are chestnut, black, & bay. Common genes include dun, flaxen, and pangare. Pearl and double cream gene and patterns such as tobiano and overo have not been seen in the breed and go against breed standards.
Special Needs Coming from warm climate, Maarlos horses require extra care in colder climates. It's best to stable them over the long winter nights with a rug or two.