In the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, there is a type of horse that is uniquely adapted to the high altitude and harsh conditions.
This horse is known as the Spiti Horse.
Here everything you need to know about this hardy breed.
Spiti Horse Breed Info
Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Spiti Horse:
|Height (size)||11.2 – 13.2 hands high|
|Colors||Most commonly gray and brown, but bay, chestnut, black, palomino and piebald are also seen. Some have primitive markings such as small dark stripes, or white patches along the back.|
|Country of Origin||India|
|Common Uses||Riding, traditional games, as pack animals; the Indian army makes use of them as a mode of transport in areas of the Himalayas that are particularly inaccessible and steep|
Spiti Horse Facts & Information (Breed Profile)
Spiti originates where the Himalayan mountains meet the vast Tibetan Plateau.
This breed, named after the Spiti River, is very resilient and well-adapted to high elevations.
Spiti horses have been used to transport goods between Tibet and India for centuries, carrying large loads through the mountains.
After commerce with Tibet came to a stop in 1962, the Indian side of the border became the new home of the Spiti breed, and the people who live there continue to place a great value on the breed to this day.
In truth, Spiti horses are still exchanged for jewelry, carpets, and wool with the nearby Changpa nomads.
The Indian Army’s need for horses capable of navigating mountain trails unreachable by car has further increased their value.
In the summer families combine their herds of horses into larger groups that are easier to control as they wander the vast plateau.
In the past, groups of villages would utilize a single stallion to cover all of their mares, and they would choose a different stallion each year.
However, since many Spits live as feral horses, it is also common for the dominant stallion in a herd to be the father of the majority of the herd’s offspring, if not all of them.
The Spiti is closely related to the Zanskari, which is a breed that inhabits much of the same natural habitat as the Spiti.
However, the Zanskari is bigger and does not perform as well at high elevations.
Additionally, it has similarities with both the Tibetan pony and the Mongol horse, both of which are its possible ancestors.
Today, the Spiti is held in such high regard in its home area that several communities have instituted their very own insurance programs in order to protect themselves against the possibility of losing their precious horses.
This is especially important during the summer, when the horses graze on the alpine meadows with minimal oversight from the villagers who live on the opposite side of the river.
Because of this, the horses are at risk of being attacked by snow leopards and brown bears.
During the winter, however, they are brought back to the villages and placed in wooden houses or stables.
There, they are fed hay that the locals have diligently harvested over the course of the previous months.
Although these horses are also raised in Uttarakhand, Ladakh, and Tibet, their real breeding area can only be found in the 15 villages that are located in the Pin valley of Spiti.
If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!
Gentle and docile
Some of them have a slightly concave profile, which suggests an Arabian influence, although the majority of them have a rather heavy head with a convex profile.
The withers are low, and the chest is deep.
The shoulders are somewhat sloped, and the back is straight.
Overall they have a solid and compact body.
They grow a thick winter coat along with a long mane and tail, and the hair on their legs is long and coarse.
Other adaptations for their mountainous environment include the ability to practically smell out glaciers, walk comfortably on ice, and are incredibly surefooted on the sloping terrain.
These gentle horses can endure lengthy journeys with a rider or a load without becoming fatigued, thrive on little amounts of food, and can withstand winter temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celsius.
Spiti horses are gaited, which makes them exceptionally comfortable to ride over long distances.
Most commonly gray and brown, but bay, chestnut, black, palomino and piebald are also seen.
Some have primitive markings such as small dark stripes, or white patches along the back.
11.2 – 13.2 hands high
Riding, traditional games, as pack animals; the Indian army makes use of them as a mode of transport in areas of the Himalayas that are particularly inaccessible and steep
Very healthy and resilient
It ia an incredible hardy and gaited mountain breed
Country of Origin
Tibetan pony, Mongolian horse