LEXINGTON, Ky, USA/Imphal, Manipur, India (January 20, 2012) The Secretariat of His Excellency Gurbachan Jagat, the Governor of Manipur, and the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, are pleased to announce that a unique gift of traditional Manipuri Polo (Sagol Kangjei) gear has been donated by His Excellency to the museum on behalf of the people of Manipur. The donation was arranged by Dr. R.K.Nimai Singh, Secretary to the Governor and L. Somi Roy, a film and media arts curator, of New York.The gifts were designed and fabricated by Meisnam Khelen of Khurai Thongam Leikai, former captain of the Manipur Polo team following the most authentic process and materials. They include the traditional Manipuri wooden saddle, braided bridle, braided leather whip, a full set of traditional polo player's attire, two traditional polo mallets and a ball. Mr. Roy made an additional gift of traditional Manipuri darts (arambai) with peacock feathers, also made by Mr. Khelen.The Governor of Manipur is pleased that he was able to donate the items on behalf of the people of Manipur. Even though Manipur is the origin of modern polo, most people do not know this and he expressed that this small gift will at least provide a window to the glorious polo tradition of Manipur to the outside world. He expressed his gratitude to the museum for accepting the gifts for display."We are extremely grateful to the governor and the people of Manipur not only for the significant donation of ethnographic materials related to the Manipuri Pony* and polo in Manipur, but also for allowing us to do our small part to raise awareness of these historically significant animals and the current threat of their extinction," said Bill Cooke, Director of the International Museum of the Horse.The gifts will be displayed in the museum's permanent exhibit called "The Horse in Sport." An exploration of the contemporary uses of horse in recreational activities, the exhibit features sections devoted to rodeo, polo, Thoroughbred racing, Standardbred racing and more. The exhibit was renovated in the summer of 2010 and now features a major section devoted to eight disciplines of the World Equestrian Games, which the Kentucky Horse Park hosted in 2010. Manipuri sagol kangjei will be featured alongside English polo, tracing the origins and history of modern polo. Expected to open to the public in the Spring of 2012, the exhibition panel will display Manipuri sagol kangjei and English polo in traditional attire as well as video and photographic displays. In addition, the museum will add the Manipuri Pony, or the Meitei Sagol, to its online exhibit "Horse Breeds of the World" and will highlight the breed's special characteristics, its importance in the region and culture of Manipur and its present endangered condition.The governor's Secretariat and the International Museum of the Horse are pleased to acknowledge the contributions to this addition to the museum by Dr. Evelyn Knight, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Health Behaviour, University of Kentucky College of Public Health; Becky Ryder, Director of the Keeneland Library at the Keeneland Association Race Course in Lexington; Mary Molinaro, Associate Dean for Library Technologies at University of Kentucky Libraries; and Rachel Roberts, Digitisation Studio Manager at the British Library in London.For more information and additional press materials, please contact Cindy Rullman,
*For more information on the Manipuri Pony click on http://tinyurl.com/6rb2bp2.
LEXINGTON, KY (September 29, 2011) The Kentucky Horse Park will welcome four rare Marwari horses on permanent loan from Francesca Kelly, who imports this breed from India. Three of the horses arrived Tuesday, September 27.The horses came from Kelly's farm on Chappaquiddick Island off the coast of Massachusetts. Francesca Kelly is a writer who is dedicated to preserving the breed and has increased the number of these horses outside their native India. She is moving her herd to England and is allowing the park to keep three mares and a yearling. The Kentucky Horse Park is the only known location in North America where Marwari can be seen by the public. John Nicholson, executive director of the park, stated, "We are delighted and honored that Francesca Kelly has chosen the Kentucky Horse Park as the keeper of the last, precious band of these rare equines on this continent. They will be treasured by our staff and enjoyed by the literally millions of park visitors who will see them in the upcoming years." He continued, "We applaud the efforts of people like Ms. Kelly who dedicate their lives to preserving rare and endangered breeds." The Marwari horse was used hundreds of years ago as warhorses known for their extreme endurance. The Marwari are considered very brave and athletic horses. They are attentive and pick things up quickly through their senses. Visitors at the park during last year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games watched "tent pegging" demonstrations using some of Ms. Kelly's Marwari. The most noted fact about this breed is their extremely distinct ears. The ears curve inward and sometimes touch or overlap when in front position. The ears are the main characteristic that the registry uses to judge this breed.
The breed is available in all colors but the albino is held in highest regard. The albino Marwari is often used for religious purposes and ceremonies in its native home of India. They often become very attached to their handler and can become protective of them.
The three Marwari mares are on view to the public during park hours. The fourth, a yearling colt, will arrive later this fall.
Photos by James Shambhu.