To Hugh Falconer 23 November 1857
My dear Falconer
You told me that you thought you could obtain information for me about the colours and markings of some Indian horses, from the very best authority, namely Col. E. Dickie.1 If you could interest him to oblige me with answers to the following questions, it would be conferring a very great kindness on me. I have put the questions in full, though I do not suppose he could answer all; but if he would take the trouble to answer some of them, I should feel extremely much obliged to him, and to you for aiding me in getting information on a point on which I am very curious
My dear Falconer | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
Would you be so kind as to send off my queries pretty soon, as time is precious.2
1. Major Gwatkin in a letter published by Col. Hamilton Smith, speaking of the Kutch or Kahleawar breed of horses, says “Kutch is the country where the mares are bred; the sire is an Arab. They are generally greys or light duns, and almost invariably have the zebra-marks on the arms and thighs with list down the back.”3 I am very anxious to know what are the colours of the pure Kutch mares; for it seems very surprising that the offspring, begotten by Arab sires, which I believe are never dun, should be generally dun or grey and have a dorsal stripe and transverse zebra-like marks on the legs. These latter characteristics, I hear, are generally lost in the Scandinavian duns, when crossed with any other colour.
2. In the Kutch or Kahleawar duns (whether or not a crossed breed), are the zebra-like leg-markings, and dorsal stripe very generally present? Does a transverse shoulder stripe, like that on the ass, ever occur? Is such shoulder stripe ever double, as sometimes, though very rarely, is the case with the ass.
3. Am I to understand from Major Gwatkin that the Grey Kutch horses have a dorsal stripe and zebra-like marks on the legs: I have never heard of this before.
4. Are any Kutch horses cream-coloured; and have such the dorsal, or shoulder, or leg stripes?
5. Chesnut horses often have a dorsal stripe: in India have they ever a shoulder or leg stripes?
6. Is the dun or other colour when accompanied by the above stripes, strongly inherited, when such coloured horses are crossed with others.
7. Are all the horses, whatever their colour may be, when striped, small and built like cobs.
8. What is the colour of the Dun or Cream or other colour, when accompanied by stripes in the foal, before first hair is shed? Are the stripes at this early age more or less conspicuous?4
C. Darwin Down, | Nov. 22nd 1857.
Can HF ask Col. E. Dickie [probably Col. Edward John Dickey] enclosed questions about Indian horses? [Questions relate to striped markings on the Kutch breed of horses.]
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2175,” accessed on 5 May 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2175