With the constant efforts and battle against all odds, the State government has been successful in conserving and rebounding Chamurthi horse breed which was in danger of becoming extinct few years back.
The Chamurthi breed known for better ability and endurance skills is found in the upper mountainous areas of Himachal mainly in snow bound Spiti valley at least as early as the Indus Valley (Harrapan) civilization. This breed is one of the six recognized breeds of Indian horses which is known for its stamina and surefootedness during high-altitude journeys, which remains covered with snow in most part of the year. It has been used by the Tibetans, Ladhakhis and Spitians for war and to carry their goods and is widely used for various domestic and commercial use in Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur area of the Himachal and adjoining states.
The Animal Husbandry Department set up a horse breeding farm in the year 2002, in Lari (Spiti), to save and conserve snow horses and bring them to the fore. This farm is one kilometre away from Spiti river and is being used for propagation of this versatile breed of horses popular with royalty and farmers alike.
Presently, this breeding farm has been divided into three separate units having capacity of 20 horses in each unit and one stallion shed having capacity of four horses. It is being run on 82 bighas and 12 Biswa land. The department is also utilizing local surrounding village land for pasturing objectives of saving this endangered species.
Animal Husbandry Minister Virender Kanwar said that with the establishment of breeding farm and after years of breeding programmes, the population of this fiery wild heritage breed, which was once in a verge of getting extinct, has been steadily increased. Their population has now touched a high figure of around four thousand in Himachal Pradesh at present.
Around 25 veterinarian and supportive staff of animal husbandry department equipped with necessary medicines, machines and other infrastructural facilities are contributing towards the conservation efforts of this species in Lari farm and around 67 horses both young and adult are being reared in this breeding farm out of which 23 stallions and 44 broodmares both young and adults are being reared in the farm. The majority of the yearlings produced each year are sold to the locals and individual buyers through auction by the Animal Husbandry department.
The Average market value of one full grown horse of 4-5 years of age is currently 30- 40 thousand rupees. The highest cost of these horse three years back was recorded at Rs. 75 thousand.
On an average, maximum 15 mares conceive in a year depending on the population and climate and pasture, a foal is born 11-12 months after conception while weaning is done once it completes its one year of age. Breeding is also being done under strict supervised operation by veterinarian experts.
A foal is registered after one month of birth and is separated from its mother and shifted to another shed when it is six months old. The foal is sold only when it is one year old and due to old age and overpopulation the department is auctioning only mares.
Apart from this, for the up-keeping and rearing of other horse breeds and to restore these animals to their once important place in our tradition/history the department is spending around 35 lakh rupees per year to run this farm smoothly.
The state has also been ranked at the top among the leading stallion charts and has been successful in consistently producing classic horses. The success and popularity of Chamurthi horses can be easily measured by various awards won during international Lavi and Ladarcha fairs and other exhibitions from time to time in recent years.