Connemara Pony

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Breed Name: Connemara

Origin: Ireland

Physical Description:

The Connemara stands on short legs, covering a lot of ground. It has a short, dense, flat and clean cannon bone, measuring seven to nine inches below the knee. The body is deep, compact and well-balanced with depth, substance and good heart room.

The Connemara has a good sloping shoulder and moves freely with little knee action in surprisingly large strides for its height. On this strong, sturdy body sets a handsome head with a well defined jaw and good width between large kind eyes. It is mannerly and manageable, kind and responsive, and possess good sense and basic intelligence. An easy keeper, it does not require a rich diet to stay healthy and fit.

The Connemara is the largest of the pony breeds, ranging in height from 13 to 15 hands with 14 to 14.2 hands as the average. Full maturity is reached at five years of age, sometimes older, and it can live well into its 30's. The most common colors are grey and dun, but there are blacks, bays, browns, chestnuts, palominos and an occasional roan. Black points are common but paints are not acceptable. Sure-footed, hardy and agile, it possesses powers of great stamina, staying power and adaptability. It is renowned for its versatility and gentle, tractable, sensible and willing disposition.

Versatility

When one thinks of ponies, children come to mind, yet the Connemara has always been a suitable mount for children AND adults. In the United States, the largest market for the Connemara is a middle-aged woman.

The Connemara has a natural jumping ability, and its build makes it suitable for dressage. It often beats larger horses with staying power, intelligence and heart. It's ideal as a show jumper or working hunter, eventer, Western pleasure or endurance mount, and for driving. The Connemara can do it all!

There are no large commercial breeding farms. Most people keep only a few mares. After all, the Connemara breed was built on one good mare per farm. Foals are raised with much human contact. Connemaras have been exported to all European countries, even New Zealand and Australia. With their ability to adapt to extremes of climate, they have made useful working partners with those who own them and have competed with the best of the sport horse breeds. These ponies are the image of strength, kindness and trust and can charm their way into your heart.

History:

While the history of the Connemara is obscure it is considered Ireland's only native breed. The Ancient Celts brought two ponies to Connemara more than 2,500 years ago and used them to draw war chariots and carts along the beaches of their new found home. Legend has it that when the Spanish Armada sank off the Connemara coast in the 16th Century, the horses swam to shore and bred with the native ponies running wild in the mountains.

The area of Western Ireland known as Connemara is rocky, barren, mountainous terrain and is full of endless desolate moors and bogs with shores pounded by the tide and storms of the Atlantic. These ponies learned to live in these conditions where a misplaced step could send them crashing to their death. Over the centuries in the ruggedness of their western Irish environment, the Connemara developed its prized qualities of hardiness, agility and extraordinary jumping ability.

Farmers in this area had large families to support and could usually only afford one good pony. These were often captured off the mountain and tamed. This pony had to be a mare that could have a foal each year to sell and also pull a plow or a cart and work from dawn to dusk, often under extremely harsh conditions. She pulled the plow and carted the family to Mass on Sunday. With never a day of rest she survived by having hardiness, stamina and a good disposition or she was replaced. Stallions would travel the primitive roads between villages breeding many mares and covering many miles in one day. Local racing was popular and the Connemaras competed equally with the larger Irish Hunters and Thoroughbreds.

The Connemara Pony Breeders Society was formed in 1923 in Clifden by the local breeders for the purpose of conserving and developing the breed. Centuries of natural selection, some interference needed for human survival, followed by the past 72 years of selective breeding has given us the quality Connemara we have today.

Famous Horses:

Alladin - ACPS foundation Sire of the Year 2009, Tooreen Laddie Award Winner 2009 for foundation sire with significant inpact on the Connemara pony in the U.S.

ArdCeltic Art - Connemara of the year 2009. High performance in training level dressage and jumping.

Cashel's Rock of Ages - ACPS Performance Stallion of the Year 2009, An Tostal Award from ACPS in 2009 for lifetime contribution as performance stallion and outstanding ambassador of the Connemara breed.

Breed Association: American Connemara Pony Society


(Information provided by the U.S. Equestrian Federation)