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SRINAGAR, INDIA, June 28, 2001: An estimated 8,000 ponies are being pressed into service to transport pilgrims for the Amarnath Yatra beginning early next month. The Jammu and Kashmir Animal Husbandry Department puts the ponies to vigorous health and physical fitness tests before they are pressed into service. This is done to prevent any pony with impaired vision, lameness or other ailment from serving yatra duty to safeguard pilgrims and vehicles alike. Veterinary medicare to the 8,000-strong equine contingent will be provided from seven camp veterinary hospitals being set up on the Pahalgam and Baltal cave routes. Two mobile veterinary dispensaries are being organized. All veterinary resources are targeted to be fully functional from July 3, a day ahead of the scheduled commencement of the yatra, officials say.