BREED PROFILE-Connemara Pony
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The Connemara Pony is considered Ireland’s only native breed and also is the oldest breed. The breed is native to the Connaight region of Ireland and is a descendant of the Celtic Pony. It is believed that they were brought to Ireland by the Ancient Celts, who were skilled horseman. There is a legend that a Spanish Armada sank off the Connemara coast in the 16th century and the horses swam ashore and bred with native ponies running wild in the mountains. It is believed they learned to live on the rough vegetation and survive the hardships of their habitat. (A rocky, barren mountainous terrain where one misstep could send a pony crashing to it’s death. There were also endless, desolate moors and bogs.) The Connemara pony has been influenced by a diverse range of breeds including: the Spanish Jennet, Arab and Barb breed. Other breeds that have influenced the breed are the Thoroughbred, Hackney and, most significantly, the Welsh. The breed has absorbed the best qualities of all those breeds. Life on the coast of Connemara was an arduous one for farmers in the area . With large families to support, they could only afford one pony and that pony was often captured off the mountain and tamed. A mare was bred each year to produce a foal that could be sold to help sustain a family through the long winter. Ponies carried heavy loads, pulled a plow, and pulled a cart. Mares hauled tons of rock that had to be removed from the land, as well as seaweed, used to fertilize the barren fields, from the shore. They carried turf cut from the bogs, used for cooking and heating. She also carted the family to Mass on Sunday. The mare had be hardy, with good stamina and a good disposition or she was replaced. In this manner, the good mares were kept in Connemara, producing foals with these qualities. Stallions traveled between villages on primitive roads, breeding to many mares. Local racing was popular and the Connemaras competed equally with the larger Irish Hunter as well as the Thoroughbred. The Connemara Pony Breeders Society was formed in 1923, in Clifden, Ireland, by local breeders for the purpose of conserving and developing the breed. Some of the important stallions were Golden Glen (foaled in 1932), Rebel (foaled in 1922) and Cannon Ball (foaled in 1904) who was of Welsh and Connemara origin. Cannon Ball became the first stallion to be entered in the Connemara stud book in 1826. The Connemara is the largest of the pony breeds, ranging in height from 13 to 15 hands with 14 to 14.2 hands being the average. Their cannon bone is short, dense, flat and clean. The body is deep and compact, well-balanced with depth, substance and good heart room. The have well conformed shoulders, allowing for good length of stride. They have fine, attractive heads set on a well arched neck. They have large, kind eyes. The Connemara has a natural jumping ability and is well suited to dressage. They are also very suitable for driving, western pleasure, endurance and pleasure. They make a wonderful mount for children, as well as adults. They are known for their strength, kindness and trust. There are no large commercial breeding farms. Most keep only a few mares. After all, the Connemara breed was built on one good mare per farm. Like the Irish people the Connemara breed has been exported to all European countries, New Zealand, and Australia as well here in
the United States.