22 November 2016
When I say I have Connemaras, most people say “conna-what?” A lot of the time the easiest way to describe them is simply as Irish ponies. But that description is just too simple to describe such a broad pony.
These versatile ponies are natural to Ireland and more specifically the rugged terrain of Connemara. One of the best descriptions of the origin of the Connemara is an all rounder pony in country Ireland, pulling the plough all week then taking the family to church on Sundays. Beyond that, there are many theories about the origination of the first Connemara, some claiming they came on a boat with the Aztecs, others say they came with the Spanish Armada. It wasn’t until 1923 that the Connemara was recognised as a breed, and a studbook was created to preserve the pony bloodline.
Up until this date however, random breeding was rife and many thoroughbred, Arabian and hackney bloodlines were introduced, creating the modern day Connemara pony. Although a Connie can come in many colours and shapes they are best known for being heavier grey ponies standing about 14hh. All the unchecked breeding in Ireland in the early 19th century led to a huge variety within the breed, accounting for the sometimes shorter, or taller ponies that can either look like welsh ponies or small thoroughbreds. It is possibly this variety that makes the Connemara pony so unique!
Now, when I say pony I don’t mean pony. These guys are registered between 13 and 15hh, and have bone to boot. They are known for their strength, bombproof temperament and amazing jumping ability. Many Connemaras, and their part bred cousins, have been hugely successful as show jumping ponies, and possibly the most mentionable of them would be Dundrum and Stroller. Dundrum was awarded showjumper of the century in 1961, after winning 5 major events at Dublin horse show, and clearing a 7ft 2in puissance fence! Stroller was one of the two only horses that completed a clear round in the show jumping at the 1968 Olympics, at just 14.1hh winning the silver medal and clearing a 6ft 10in fence is ground-breaking.
If you aren’t up for jumping 6-foot fences however, these ponies make great companion and children’s horses. Extremely cheap to keep, with an amazing temperament makes them a great family pony, and although they have been lesser known they are becoming more and more popular in Australia.