The Manipuri Pony or Meetei Sagol in local dialect is a rare breed found across the globe. The Ponies are vastly known for their stamina, speed and intelligence. From the moment the game of Polo originated in Manipur, Polo and Pony have become inseparable entities. Since then Pony of Manipur has been playing vital role as it is associated with the game and its role in the history of Manipur.
Today, it is accepted by the people throughout the world that Polo is originated from Manipur and ponies are the horses the players ride when it was originated.
Notably, in the history of Manipur, Ponies were used aswar horse in withdrawing the enemies from the soil of the State where warriors throw poisonous Arambai (traditional Manipuri darts) against the enemies while riding on Ponies. Manipur was able to regain independence from the clutch of invading Myanmar enemy after being devastated for almost seven years.
In the meantime, after witnessing the drastic decline in the number of Ponies, questions raised from different sections nowadays is on the future of the breed and measures taken up to prevent and preserve from its extinction.
Taking into account on this regard, Manipur Times interacted with some people who took initiatives to save and preserve this rare breed.
Ningthoukhongjam Vedajit, organizing secretary of the 6th International Manipuri Polo Tournament 2012 reminds us that Pony is one of the important animals in the world. It is a recognized breed which has unique quality as compare with other breeds of horses in the world.It is known for its comfort in handling and riding, maneuvering quality. Easy maintenance while rearing is one good aspect of Pony. It survives for a long time with less grass feed however it should not be practiced.
Despite efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture and North East Council (NEC) to save the breed from its extinction, the count of Manipuri Pony is decreasing day by day. At present, the number of Manipuri Pony is below 1000 (one thousand).
The main factor of the drastic fall in number is the shrinking of grazing grounds in the State. Earlier Ponies used to graze at grounds like Lamphel, Takyel, Porompat and Akampat. But these grazing grounds are not there anymore due to urbanization and encroachment in the said zone.
There are number of cases where the Ponies are being attacked by owners of the farms fordestroying their crops using sword and other deadly weapons. On the road also there were incidents where movingvehicles hit the animal. Many others have died due to indigestion after eating food containing plastic remains.
Earlier Pony was domesticated in almost all the households. It was a tradition and must to have a horse for a noble man. Even the common people also domesticate it for the purpose of transportation.
Nowadays mainly Pony is maintained only by the Polo players for the purpose of the game of Polo. Apart from this, the recognized Pony Breeding Farm which is run by the Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association with the financial assistance from the Veterinary Department, Government of Manipur is in a sorry state due to various factors including delay in issuing utilization certificate and irregular release of funds.
In a welcoming step, a breeding farm was established at Tingkai Khunou in Senapati district by the Veterinary Department of Manipur under the aegis of NEC. About 100 Ponies have been kept in this farm for rearing but sadly it has not been functioning properly.
As of now about 200 Ponies have been registered in Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association. These Ponies are healthy and trained Ponies which are ready to use.