The Manipuri Pony is a breed of pony from India. The exact origin is disputed among experts, but they all agree it is an ancient breed. Some sources say the pony was an ancestor of the Tibetan Pony that was brought into India more than 1,000 years ago. Other sources says it was a cross between the Mongolian Wild Horse and Arabian.
The pony was first mentioned in written chronicles of 1584 and were later being used by the calvary of the 1600 and 1700s. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the British used them for polo ponies. The population of the Manipuri have decreased and is at very low numbers. During this period, exporting of the pony was banned to try to increase the population. A genetic study was conducted in 2007 and it was found that the Manipuri was close genetically to three other Indian breeds.
In recent years the population has decreased to be estimated at under 2,300 ponies and numbers continue to drop mainly from being in high demand and being stolen from owners. In 2005 the Manipur Riding and Polo Association founded a heritage park to prevent the extinction of the pony.
The head of the Manipuri has a straight profile and is light that sets on a well-formed neck. It has pronounced withers, a deep chest and sloping shoulders. The legs are sturdy with well-proportioned hooves. The height is usually between 44 and 52 inches and are normally bay, but can be other colors like pinto, gray or chestnut.
The main use in India of the Manipuri is for polo. Other uses include racing and the military still use them today.
Image Caption: Manipuri Pony sketch. Credit: Unknown/Wikipedia (public domain)