Gone are the days when horses were the only means of transportation in the rural pockets of the country.
Rural eastern dzongkhags like Trashigang has seen rapid development in the last few decades. The blacktopped highway, farm roads, and government infrastructure prove that the rural backwaters are fast caught up in the whirlpool of change and development.
One of the tell-tale signs of changing signs and trends are the ubiquitous bolero pick-ups that have replaced horses.
Today, horses do not seem to have any work and they can be seen grazing or strolling leisurely along the Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar highway. These horses are literally disowned by their owners because they have little utility. In fact, the animals are seen as a pest by some residents.
Tobgay, who lives in Kanglung, said people chase these horses from one place to another.
“As dawn breaks, horses can be seen along the highway,” he said. “It has been sometime since the horses have been straying along the road.”
A farmer from Pangthang said that horses are a menace especially during the paddy season. “They are even beaten up and chased,” she said.
Ap Gyembo, who owned horses in the past saw no business in having them and sold them a few years back.
The trending thing now in the east is the Bolero. It is a sign of affluence and prosperity to own one.
There are more than 150 boleros registered in Trashigang Dzongkhag till date.
It is estimated that even the two remotest gewogs of Trashigang, Merak and Sakteng, have more than 50 vehicles today, mostly bolero pickups.
Ap Gyembo said boleros have replaced horses. “Boleros are every where today,” he said.
However, he said horses were more profitable than boleros. “There are too many boleros and some do not get business.”
A Kanglung Gewog official said that horses have no work now as every village is connected with farm roads and people own vehicles including bolero pick-ups.
“It is a sign of change and development in rural pockets of the eastern dzongkhags,” said a gewog official. “But still the owners don’t want to sell them off as they have sentiments attached with these animals.”
Although horses damage crops, there are no cases reported to the gewog office till date.
Jigme Wangchen from Trashigang