The Burmese, or Shan pony
as the breed is also known, is another mountain breed of pony. It
is primarily bred in the Shan state of Eastern Burma by the local
hill tribes. The Burmese pony bears many similarities to the Manipuri,
and the Bhutia and Spiti ponies of the Himalayas, and it is quite
likely that these breeds are all of similar origin. They are all
ancient breeds that probably developed from the Mongolian pony and
had other oriental influences over the centuries.
The Burmese pony, however,
has probably had less benefit from Arabian blood than has the Manipuri,
which is by far superior, more elegant, and much faster. Nevertheless,
the Burmese is extremely will adapted to its environment and lifestyle
and makes an excellent working pony. They are extremely surefooted
and ideally suited to mountainous areas, which makes them excellent
pack and trekking ponies. They are also quite able to traverse areas
not suitable for vehicles.
Their quiet and willing
personality makes them ideal for tourist trekking, children, and
novices alike. The Burmese is sturdy and tough, has good stamina,
and is resistant to the harsh climate of their mountainous environment.
At one time they were used by the British colonials as polo ponies,
but it is generally thought that this was through a shortage of
other better breeds. Although the Burmese pony is reliable, especially
for mountain work, they are not particularly fast or athletic, and
the Manipuri is considered a much better polo prospect.
In appearance the Burmese
is a rather unstartling pony to look at, being a more functional
than aesthetic type. They tend to have a fine head with a straight
profile and good width through the forehead. The neck is muscular
and in proportion to the body, and is set to a muscular but often
long back. The withers are not pronounced, and the shoulders are
straight, which produces a short stride that is useful in the mountainous
terrain. They have deep, wide chests and have a strong, sloping
croup. Their legs are strong but fine, and their hooves are small
and hard. They can be brown, bay, black, chestnut, or gray, and
stand approximately 13 hh.
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