Chamurthi horses also called the ‘aeroplane of cold and snow desert’ have not lost its relevance in the era of super communications as these animals still render important contribution in the hill economy especially in hard areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu and Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.
Department of animal husbandry has been organizing Chamurthi horses exhibition in International Lavi fair being held at Rampur Bushair of Shimla district since 1984 draws traders and pony lovers across North Western Himalayan region. Even Indian armed forces are purchasing the Chamurthi horses and other breeds since long time.
Deputy Commissioner Shimla Dinesh Malhotra, also the Lavi fair officer said that Chamurthi horses fetched highest price of Rs. 52,000, moreover trade fair just concluded trading 100 sturdy Chamurthi horses which is a record in itself.
The horse owner hailing to Kasrang area of Pin valley in Lahaul and Spiti, Mr. Vir Singh sold two Chamurthi ponies for Rs. 42,000 each to a Uttarakhand based traders. The best male horse award went to Spiti based horse breeding centre Lari and female horse to Armi Chand of Khabnamgya of Kinnaur district respectively as it was organized by the department.
During the fair polo events and horse races were also held. Horse owners Satish Negi of Kinnaur won 400 meters and 800 meters horse race events while Ravi Negi got second position in 400 meters and Dharampal in 800 meters respectively.
This horse trade also takes place in Ladarcha fair in Lahaul and Spiti, Changlang in Ladakh and Mandi of horse’s in Uttrakhand.
Chamurthi is known for treading steep height paths with its sturdy hoe and it can brave cold weather as low as minus 25 to 30 degrees Celsius that is why it is called ‘aeroplane of snow and cold desert’.
The horse is called native animal of Pin valley of Spiti as it plays an important role to carry people and articles on its back for many centuries. The Chamurthi horses are found in abundant at 15 villages of Spiti falling in Kungti and Sagnam gram Panchayat.
Evolutionary development of this animal belongs from a wild breed of Spiti and Tibet region of China, beside Spiti and Kinnaur of Himachal Pradesh these horses were also found in peninsula of Tibet and grounds of Ladakh.
In Himachal Pradesh, beside Lahaul and Spiti district Chamurthi horses were found in Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi and few parts of Shimla district. In rest of the country it was also found in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, parts of Uttarakhand and Tibet in China.
According to horse experts Kayang strain of horses were also found in Changyang area of Ladakh and Tibet. Chamurthi horses are considered as one among top six types of horses. The word Chamurthi came from a kind of grass it graze in the extreme cold weather of snow desert of high altitude.
The life of people in Pin valley revolves around this horse, they consider it holy while smoothing hoe and putting horseshoe on the young and new one, they also recite ‘Bodh sermons’ (Tar-Dzung) so it does not feel pain.
Pace of development is very rapid but due to rise of economy the demand of Chamurthi horses are also on rise. Besides modern communication means, it has not lost its relevance in the hills today also, as it is means of transportation of ration, farmers produce and fruits being grown in the far-flung areas.