In the Oriental Zodiac, 1978 is the Year off ??? Horse, and animal lovers in?
In the Oriental Zodiac, 1978 is the Year off ??? Horse, and animal lovers in Japan are pinning their hopes on it for the survival of a breed of ponies which is new nearly extinct.
SYNOPSIS: Until recently, only five pure-blooded members of the breed existed. Then along came this little female foal, ??? at the beginning of this month on Shikoku Island in south Western Japan.
She was also born on a special day in the Year of the Horse -- the Japanese 'Setsubun' or spring festival. Naturally enough, she was called Setsu for short, and because of her birthday, people are predicting she is bound to grow up strong and healthy.
Setsu was born at the home of an animal lover in Shikoku Island's Matsuyama City, and has become quite a playmate for his young children.
The breed is called the ncma-uma, or field horse, and is said to resemble the British Shetland pony, which in turn looks like a miniature draft horse. The main difference is in their size -- the Japanese ponies are smaller, and only measure one metre high at the shoulder when fully grown. Shetland ponies are a familiar favourite with children in Britain, and with luck and careful breeding these little ponies will perhaps become a more familiar sight in Japan.