Sumit Guha,

Department of History, University of Texas at Austin


William Moorcroft (1767-1825) is now mainly remembered as an explorer. But the English East India Company financed his expensive expeditions into Inner Asia with a major strategic goal: securing a large supply of quality war-horses for their empire. He never found these mythic beasts and died on his return journey with only 50 animals. But his obsessions have misled generations of historians. I will show that while the EIC was pursuing this chimera, indigenous South Asian traditions of horse-rearing were allowed to disappear.