The following was reported by Andy Cobley using the Fortean Times - On line reporting service.


Seen in ITV Teletext on Nov 4 1995

French explorers sya they have discovered a new breed of pony in a remote part of north-east Tibet.

The pony is just over a metre tall. It has a rectangular face and a bristly mane. The animal's lungs and heart are larger than normal, which enables it to survive in the mountains. Local people use it as a work horse.

The region in Tibet is one of the few unexplored areas left in the world.

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The Second Article:


Explorer backs Tibetan dark horse in the history stakes

By Suzanne Lowry in Paris

AN EXPEDITION to the far north of Tibet led by Dr Michel Peissel, a Frenchman with more than a touch of Indiana Jones about him, has discovered a hitherto unknown ancient breed of horse.

The Riwoche horse, named by Dr Peissel after the remote area where it was found, may be the missing link between the Przewalski horse, a wild Mongolian animal with neolithic origins, and other breeds.

The team of six, which included Sebastian Guinness, with whom Dr Peissel discovered the source of the Mekong last year, returned to Europe a few days ago. The original purpose of the seven-week expedition was to study another horse, the Nangchen, identified by Dr Peissel in north-eastern Tibet in 1993.

He had hoped to buy some of these pure-bred creatures which have no trace of Mongolian, Arab or Turkish blood. Powerful and fast, they have many of the characteristics of a modern racehorse.

The high prices wanted by the tribesmen made purchase impossible, but bad weather on the way back to Lhasa led to a new discovery. "We were in a very unexplored area, the primitive pre-Buddhist area of Tibet to the north of Lhasa, not far from the Chinese border. We weren't able to proceed on our intended route because the passes were blocked with snow. So we took another way, into Riwoche, which is where we found the little monster.

"It is pony-size, about 4ft, a little like a donkey but with small ears, hardly any nostrils and a rough coat. It has a black stripe down its back, stripes on its back legs and and a black mane. I thought it looked like cave drawings of horses, although a friend of mine says it looks like a pig.

His adventures have included the discovery of the Tibetan "lost knigdom" of Mustang and finding 14 Mayan coastal cities.

"The horses are owned by the local Bon-po tribesmen who use them to ride and as pack animals," said Dr Peissel.

Dr Ignasi Casas, an equine physiologist who is working with the Royal Animal Health Trust at Newmarket, Suffolk, and was with the expedition, believes the Riwoche horse may be "a relic population" that has lived isolated from other breeds for a long time. Its isolation was probably guaranteed because the 17-mile valley where it was found is sealed off by mountains.

Dr Casas hopes blood samples may help place the Riwoche in equine development. A television documentary about the trip is being prepared.

Dr Peissel, back at his Paris flat, said this expedition - his 25th to Tibet - was among his most difficult. It was the first time the Chinese had allowed foreigners to visit the region.

Dr Peissel, who is fluent in Tibetan, hopes to return to Tibet next year in co-operation with the Chinese Academy of Science to conduct a further study of the horses and to export some.

He has devoted his life to exploration and has written 17 books. His adventures have included the discovery of the Tibetan "lost knigdom" of Mustang and finding 14 Mayan coastal cities.

At 58 he admits that all this has taken its toll of his personal life. "I have four children but it has has cost me two marriages. I am looking for a lady to travel with me, but I have very bad luck. You'd think they'd come running . . ."