The people of Spiti usually ride their ponies using a wooden frame covered with specially made Tibetan carpets in bright colours of blue, red, yellow, and green, sometimes with stirrups, sometimes without. The carpets make for a very comfortable ride, like a padded rocking chair.

The ponies are easy to handle and very willing to go. They wear halters that are specially woven for them and coloured ribbons are braided into their manes and tails to signify that they are the Chamurthi, not any ordinary pony.

The locals have a unique style of riding. They ride with their legs forward and sit back on the ponies. There is basically no contact with the mouth. They tend to give them their heads completely, trusting their intelligence and agility to negotiate the rough terrain.

   
     
           
Prayer flags in Spiti
           
The people of Pin Valley worship their ponies. They are a sacred animal, depicted on their prayer flags flapping in the ever present winds that blow on the high passes and through the valleys. Horse images are also seen in the paintings that decorate the Buddhist monasteries found in the Spiti region.
     

In other areas of northwest India, ponies are mainly used as beasts of burden to carry loads up and down the mountains. Not so here. Their ponies are only ridden. The people of Pin Valley revere their ponies and would never think of subjecting them to such a lowly task. Donkeys and yaks are reserved for that purpose.

Everyone seems to own at least 3 or 4 ponies and there are far more ponies than people in this area. BesChamurthi Ponyide their flat-roofed, white-washed houses are stone-walled enclosures where the ponies are kept tied up, sometimes saddled ready to go at a moment's notice. In the winter they are kept inside at night along with the other animals – cattle, yaks, donkeys, sheep, and goats. The ground floor of their homes is a stable and the upper floor the family quarters.

One peculiarity of the Himalayan region is the tendency to tie up their ponies by one leg or to hobble them. They get them used to this at a young age. If the ponies are not needed for the day then they are sent out to graze away from the villages, usually with someone to tend them. There are no fenced-in pastures here and the ponies roam freely.

It is not unusual to see people riding double on these calm, sturdy, sure-footed ponies, moving at a pace or running walk, along the paths linking the various villages. This is the the fastest means of transportation in the valley.

 
                           
 
Back to
Home Page

Home of the
Chamurthi Pony

Description of
the Pony

Trip to Pin Valley
Spiti
 
Photo Gallery and Contact
 
                           
    copyright © 2003 Jannaca Chick