Some people want a horse really badly, so badly they will do anything and believe anything as long as they get their horse right now. Horses are expensive creatures to buy, own, and house, and anything that bypasses these obstacles seems very attractive in the haze of immediate desire. ...And along comes the answer to all their prayers—the Himalayan horse.

Duglha yaks

Himalayan Horses with Traditional Saddles

To a horse rider, the Himalayan horse is a Yak. To a few, if it is dressed up well and is priced cheaply enough, it might be construed to be a horse. Everybody in the Himalayan horse distribution game knows it is a Yak, but they also know that somewhere there is someone who is unwittingly willing to live the delusion that it is a horse and part with their money no questions asked.

So these Yaks (excuse me: Himalayan horses) end up in North America having been shipped from Pakistan, and all the insiders in the game make a modest slice. The new owner has a problem, however. This new acquisition does not seem to act like a horse. You can braid the tail, groom a mane, tack on horse shoes, get a saddle fitted, but this creature just does just does not perform like everybody else's horse. Some more outspoken horse riders will inform that this is a Yak and not even a horse. This can be very hurtful.

The realization slowly dawns that just because this creature has four legs, two ears, eats grass, has a long hairy tail and can be ridden with a saddle does not necessarily mean that it is a horse. A Yak is a Yak is a Yak, and it is a cruel ruse to be told, and therefore believe, otherwise. Yes, a Yak may be ridden but that is simply not the desired experience - dressage? racing? jumping? trail rides? It is even more cruel to find that this is more likely to be a completely untrained Yak that may never even be ridden at all.

The Metaphor Explained Edit

So we will bring the story around to the Pakistani harps cobbled together in the backyard sheds of Pakistan. This is a home-grown cottage industry, and the harps are sold on eBay as a bargain too good to be true. If it looks, smells, and walks like a Yak—it is a Yak. No amount of desire on your part is going to transduce it into a horse. Harpists are asked about Pakistani-sourced harps, and the answer is simple. They are not musical instruments in the way we desire them to be. They are large ornaments designed to look like and can be construed to be a harp. Some are playable, albeit with very poor results. Many are not playable at all.

Some harps are rebuilt at considerable expense, but when strung to proper harp tension the issues are many. Cracked necks, warped pillars, and soundboards that explode and pull off the harp are relatively common occurrences. All the strings and levers need to be replaced in most cases to get everything to work.

Our Advice Edit

Be patient and put your money towards a "keeper" harp. Many harpists keep their "first born" for emotional reasons even when they upgrade to a professional model harp later. It is best to realize that what you buy today will be with you for a long time.

Used Harp Market Edit

Please do not ask to list any Pakistani harps for resale. Harpists desire to not be a knowing member of any ongoing delusion. If your harp is made of handcarved, real rosewood from Pakistan–be up front with any potential buyers. On occasion, it's possible to find a stable rebuild that is claimed by the seller to be in playable condition for several years after a successful and expensive total harp rebuild.

If You Already Own a Pakistani Harp Edit

If you already own a Pakistani harp you have our compassion. Buying a harp is a very intimate and emotional time because harps "speak" to some people at a very deep level. The harpists and harping people are simply a great bunch, AND they are not part of the game of selling Yaks. If you get modest results from your Pakastani harp, great! If, like most, you are probably very frustrated or worse. Do try again with a totally fresh start and be prepared for a much more positive experience. Be patient, do your homework, use the Internet wisely.

Further Reading Edit

Read about the Orphan and Chinese harps too.[1]

References Edit

  1. Stephen Vardy - Original author of this opinion piece.