conformation pony head of medium length, good length of
rein, sloping shoulders, compact, well-balanced body
colour predominantly grey, though all solid colours
permitted, including palomlno and dark-eyed cream
height 12.2-14.2 hands
uses riding, endurance, jumping, hunting
Like the lunar landscape of the region from which he takes his name, lreland’s Connemara pony is tough and rugged, suited to the harsh terrain and inclement climate. ‘Said to be lreland’s only indigenous breed, the Connemara dates back some 2,500 years, when Celtic warriors brought their dun ponies to the island and used them to draw chariots and carts. Legend also has it that horses from the Spanish Armada, wrecked off th treacherous coast of Ireland in 1588, swam to shore and mated with local stock. There may be aspects of truth in both versions. Either way the Connemara is a hardy mountain and moorland pony able to thrive on sparse rations and surefooted enough to survive on the rocky coastline, where one wrong step could send him crashing to a certain death.Farmers in the area later caught and tamed these wild ponies, which could pull a cart with a heavy load with ease and helped to share the burden with the poor farmers, who usually had large families for whom to provide.
They could only afford to keep one pony and it would usually be a mare,from which they could breed a foal to sell to augment their income when times were hard.The carts were used to transport rocks to clear the land, to bring loads of seaweed from the shore to serve as fertilizer,and to carry turf cut from the bogs, which was used as fuel for cooking and heat. On Sundays, the day of rest, the cart would carry the farmer and his family to Mass. No rest for the Connemara pony. Consequently these mares were strong and agile, of generally kind disposition and from proven breeding stock – all good qualities from which to breed a viable native pony. lt was not until the beginning of the 20th century when more ponies were kept in stables and hence the breed lost some of its hardiness, that the Connemara Pony Society was formed to both preserve and refine the breed. A further concern was that random crossing with other bloodlines was also having a detrimental effect on the breed, although the introduction of Arabian and Thoroughbred blood had improved the native stock in the l700s. A carefully selected band of about a dozen ponies was turned out into the wild to ensure the Connemara continued to thrive in the way it had centuries before, The Society acheived its aim. Those ponies that survived had excellent qualities and preserved the purity of the pony. Today’s Connemara is a compact, well—built pony with a handsome head and kind eye. l-le is a quality riding type with scope, intelligence and stamina.
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