|Country of origin||India|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
The Zaniskari pony is a breed of pony found around Leh and Laddakh in the area of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. A mid-sized pony, they are often gray in color. The breed is considered endangered, as there are only a few hundred Zaniskaris alive today, and a conservation program has been started in India. Little of the breed's history is known, although it is thought to be descended at least in part from the Tibetan pony.
Zaniskari ponies usually stand 11.1 to 12 hands (45 to 48 inches, 114 to 122 cm) high. They are most often gray in color, but are also found in bay, brown, black and chestnut. They are strong, compact ponies, known for their endurance and ability to work in cold climates and at high altitudes.
The Zaniskari pony is most often found in Leh and Laddakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. Today, only a few hundred ponies are thought to exist, mainly in the valleys of Laddakh, including the Zanskar Gorge from which the breed takes its name. The breed is considered endangered, and indiscriminate crossbreeding with other pony breeds has reduced the number of purebreds. The Animal Husbandry Department of Jammu and Kashmir has started a selective breeding program for conservation at a farm in Leh.
In 2007, a study was published that examined genetic variation among five Indian equine breeds—the Zanskari, Manipuri, Marwari, Spiti and Bhutia. Based on analysis of microsatellite DNA, the Zaniskari was found to have the greatest genetic distance from the Marwari, and a much closer genetic distance to the other three breeds. The distance from the Marwari was not only genetic, but seen in physical characteristics, particularly height and environmental adaptability. The physical differences were attributed to differing ancestries: the Marwari horse is closely associated with the Arabian, while the four other breeds are thought to have descended at least in part from the Tibetan pony. None of the breeds in the study were found to be closely genetically associated with the Thoroughbred.
- "Brief on Zanskari Ponies". Indigenous Horse Society of India. Retrieved 2013-04-07.
- Behl, R.; Behl, J.; Gupta, N.; Gupta, S.C. (May 2007). "Genetic relationships of five Indian horse breeds using microsatellite markers". Animal 1 (04): 483–488. doi:10.1017/S1751731107694178.
- "Equines in India". National Research Center on Equines. Retrieved 2013-04-07.