For most, Rudyard Kipling is a man best known for treating jungle creatures of India in an anthropomorphic manner to much fame. Children the world over think of Baloo, Bagheera and Kaa as friends thanks to Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” and its many (mostly Disney) incarnations. But did you know that Kipling directed his talents at anthropomorphizing horses as well?
In 1895, around the same time that “The Jungle Book” was making its mark, Kipling released another wonderful tale, this one about “The Maltese Cat.” Despite the title, this tale is about a fearless polo pony rather than a feline, and his determination should stand beside Joey of “War Horse” fame. Yet, it seems, few equestrians are familiar with the story.
The story is a classic one. The well-to-do British Archangels team is pitted against the local Skidars in the final match of the Upper India Free For All Cup, one of polo’s greatest prizes. While the British team, with its hoards of horses and fine cavalry skills seem certain for victory, the Skidars have a secret weapon – the spirit of their ponies, and one in particular, The Maltese Cat.
For anyone who has ever had the pleasure of riding a horse when he’s in his element, felt him skillfully “take the reins,” and lead you to victory, this story will ring true and warm your heart. If you have even just a few minutes today, I highly recommend you give this timeless tale a try!
The entire story is available for free here: The Maltese Cat by Rudyard Kipling.