The history of Bhutan is exemplified by its founders who rode on horseback from Tibet to start up the new country. Sadly, automobiles are driving the indigenous equine breeds of Bhutan to extinction. The mountains, however, are not done with horses just yet, as SFS students discovered during a recent visit to the National Horse Breeding Farm at Nasphel in Bumthang.
The genetics and phenotype of the indigenous pony breeds in Bhutan are closely linked to the Mongolian and Tibetan breeds and influences from the hill breeds of India. The preservation of the indigenous Yuta pony is the overarching goal of the Farm which has tried to breed from Haflinger, Spiti, Thoroughbred, and Hequ and obtain progeny closer to the Yuta.
SFS students were taken on a tour of the Farm by Mr. Tashi Penjore who explained management practices, feed to feet care, stabling and breeding routines. There is scope for research into breeding genetics and equine management at Nasphel for SFS students who would like to go back to pursue some of their academic goals.