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Horse Articles :: Connemara Pony

Connemara Pony

The Connemara is a member of the equids group known as "mountain and moorland ponies". This special breed originated in western Ireland and may be one of the oldest native breeds in the UK; skulls unearthed from peat bogs date back as far as the Pleistocene age (over 12000 years ago). But, legend says that, in the 16th century when the Spanish Armada sank off the Connemara coast, the surviving horses swam to shore and bred with the native wild ponies producing strong and hardy foals. These ponies had to be incredibly tough to survive the local landscape. Connemara, while beautiful, is a land of awesome starkness filled with sedge covered bogs, rugged bare mountains and coasts that provide no shelter from harsh Atlantic storms. Back in those days, most Irish farmers had quite large families and could only afford one pony and that pony had to pull the plow or a heavy cart from dawn until dusk, in extremely harsh conditions. If the animal was unable to perform these tasks on a daily basis, it was quickly replaced. This demanding existence helped the Connemara breed develop its trademark endurance and adaptability. In the later part of the 19th century, local horse racing was becoming progressively more popular and the Connemara pony had no trouble competing on an equal footing with the larger Irish hunters and Thoroughbreds.

Ponaidh is the Gaelic word for pony and simply means small. Although the Connemaras are considered ponies, this magnificent breed is the largest of all the pony breeds. With heights ranging from 13 to 15 hands, they often compete and win over horses 16 hands and taller. They have thick and hardy forelegs, strong thighs and hocks, powerful hindquarters and a short attractive head with pony ears and well-defined cheekbones. The body is deep and compact with a broad chest and well-sprung rib cage. Their joints are large and well defined plus their feet are hard and strong. While they have a natural jumping ability, which is why they are such great show jumpers, their build makes them particularly suitable for dressage. Even though their movement is free, easy and true, with no undue knee action, they effortlessly cover a lot of ground. Because Connemaras have such spirited but eager and trainable temperaments, they have tremendous potential in everything they do making them a wonderful well-rounded breed. Since their disposition is so reliable, they make excellent mounts for children and for older people who are newly embarking on the equestrian experience.

In the early 1920's it was recognized that this wonderful breed was being threatened by random breeding so the Connemara Pony Breeders Society was formed in order to preserve the purity of the breed. The group of men that founded the Breeders Society chose a dozen superior ponies and turned them out to live and reproduce in the wilds. Those hardy specimens that survived the harsh Irish weather and unforgiving landscape developed exceptional qualities and therefore the resiliency and adaptability, as well as the purity and stamina, of the breed was preserved. In spite of this lengthy and colorful history, the Connemara wasn't considered an official breed until the Connemara Pony Stud Book was first published in 1926. This first studbook was comprised of 108 carefully selected ponies.

Today the Connemara Pony is fast gaining popularity all over the world as both an adult and children's pony. This breed is very well suited to a multitude of disciplines, including dressage, jumping and endurance. The Connemara pony has also enjoyed great success in the show ring, taking the accolade of the Olympia Championship no less than 9 times. In addition, the Connemaras are very well known for being wonderful companions. They are said to have extraordinary memories for people, places and other ponies. It is also said that they have immense courage that is only limited by the belief of the rider. That means, "When you believe he can do it, he knows he can do it!" Such is the nature of this pony that all things appear possible. The most favoured characteristics of the Connemara breed are their gentle, trustworthy and sensible dispositions as well as their versatility, surefootedness and eagerness that make them such treasured family pets as well as the ultimate show ponies.

About the Author
Vicki enjoys visiting the beautiful Connemaras at M&M Connemaras Farm in Langley, BC. Come and see these wonderful ponies.










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