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Tibetan Pony, being prepared for the Kailash kora in the Lha Chu river valley, Tibet | by reurinkjan
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Tibetan Pony, being prepared for the Kailash kora in the Lha Chu river valley, Tibet

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It is generally believed that most Tibetan ponies descended from ancient stock, likely partly from the Mongolian Pony and Chinese breeds. However, some breeds, such as the Nangchen horse have apparently have been bred pure for centuries.

Another type, the Riwoche horse, has been hypothesized to have been developed in isolation to a degree that some claim it is an evolutionary link between the prehistoric wild horse and the modern domestic horse, though it could also be a domesticated variety that reverted to primitive coloring.


Horses in general are well-regarded by the local people, and they have been traditionally kept by both wealthy Tibetans and farmers alike, as well as by the Dalai Lama and other religious figures. The ponies were sent as gifts to Chinese Emperors, especially during the Ming and Tang dynasties.



The ponies are known for having considerable strength and endurance for their size, as well as sure-footedness and resilience. They are mostly kept as light draft animals, as well as for pack and riding work. The Nangchen horse is used as a race horse and for handling livestock.


Most Tibetan ponies have a pronounced jaw line, straight profile, and small ears and eyes. The neck is a muscular and a bit short, the chest is deep, the shoulder is straight. The ponies have prowerful hindquarters, and short, strong legs with good joints.

Cross Breeding

The Tibetan Pony has been extensively crossbred with the Bhutia Pony and the Spiti Pony to create a new type called the Indian Country Bred. The Tibetan breeds in their pure form do retain individual characteristics and heritage, however.

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Taken on September 18, 2011