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  The Connemara Pony

Height
From approximately 12.2hh to 14.2hh.

Colour
Usually grey, other colours include bay, brown, dun and occasionally, chestnut, black, roan, palomino and dark-eyed cream. Blue-eyed creams are no longer eligible for registration
.

Build
A good depth of compact well rounded body that is strong but not bulky. Strong loins, well defined wither and a graceful slightly arched neck set on a good sloping shoulder. Hindquarters should be strong and some length permissible. Legs should be strong and short in the cannon bone with well defined joints. Head should be pony like; short and slightly dished with well defined cheekbones, good width between the eyes and a deep, clean jaw.

Movement
Free and active from the shoulder, without undue knee action.

Trimming rules for showing
Minimal trimming and thinning of thick manes is permissible. No pulling of the tail but the end may be trimmed. Jaw line may be trimmed but no trimming of whiskers or inner ear.
Working ponies may be body clipped but legs must not be clipped or trimmed.


History
The Connemara pony originates from the west coast of Ireland. Archaeological findings suggest the Connemara may be one of the oldest native breeds; skulls unearthed from peat bogs date back as far as the pleistecine age. Over the years survival in their wild native environment of harsh weather, rough pasture, rocky barren terrain, desolate moors and bogs, has led to the development of the Connemara ponies hardiness, good agility and sure footedness. The Connemara may have traces of Andalucian blood as 16th century Galway merchants imported Spanish horses.

In the early days the ponies that were caught and tamed from their natural habitat, to be kept by farmers. A days work for a Connemara pony would be tough, often carried out in the harsh conditions of an unforgiving climate. Work would often include transporting hay, peat, seaweed fertiliser and potatoes either by cart or creels (baskets) fitted across their backs. They would also be used for light plowing, transportation to and from market, and sometimes taking families to and from church in a trap. In the late 1800s, local racing was beoming increasingly popular, the Connemara pony competing on an equal footing with the larger Irish Hunters and Thoroughbreds.

In Galway 1923, The Connemara Pony Breeders Society was founded; the aftermath of the great famine resulted in a decline of both breed numbers and type. The first studbook was issued in 1926 comprising of 108 carefully selected ponies. Around thirty locals of Clifden in Connemara set up the society with the purpose of selecting good breeding stock from the dwindling number of mares.
This helped preserve the purity of the breed, as over the years foreign blood had been introduced. Their aim was to breed and promote a pony that was stocky, short legged, and strong limbed;
with greater freedom of action and of approximately 13.2hh (138 cm) with good ground covering movement from the shoulder. Aside from the raised height limit (14.2hh), these are the qualities that are aimed for in Connemara pony breeding to this day.


The Connemara pony’s enduring stamina and athletic build makes them an excellent all round performance pony. Their kind intelligent nature makes them a popular choice for competitive adults and children alike, competing in spheres from pony club activities to top level dressage.
Their graceful paces and beauty also makes them a popular choice for showing. The Connemara pony has enjoyed much success in the show ring, taking the accolade of the Olympia Championship on no less than 9 occasions. Over the years, the Connemara pony’s popularity has been immensely successful and sixteen countries worldwide now maintain a Connemara Breed Society.

Breed Society
British Connemara Pony Society.
http://www.britishconnemaras.co.uk

Irish Connemara Pony Breeders Society.
http://www.cpbs.ie

Did you know?
Connemara Rosenaharley Rossleague is the only pony to win the NPS Olympia ridden championship twice.

Stroller, a 14.2hh Connemara part bred became the only pony ever to have competed in the Olympic Games. A member of the British Team, competing in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, he was ridden by Marion Coakes and took the Individual Silver Medal. He was one of only two horses to jump a clear round in the entire 1968 Olympics, clearing a puissance fence of 6' 10".


The first Connemara Pony Show was held at Roundstone on 15th August 1924, there were 500 entries overall, 150 of which in the Connemara Pony Section. The opening ceremony was performed by Prince Ranjitsinhhi, renowned cricket player. The show has since been held at Clifden since 1947.

At the 1935 Olympia Show Jumping Championships, Connemara gelding, The Nugget, became a legendary show jumper. At age 22,he cleared a 7' 2" jump and subsequently won over 300 prizes internationally, earning over £4,500 in prize money.

In the early days the ponies of Ireland were known as ‘Hobbies’, this is where the name of the toy horse ‘Hobby horse’ originated from.

Dundrum, Tommy Wade's 15 hh Connemara gelding, set a record by clearing a 7' 2" puissance wall, in 1961.

Connemara pony, Snowball, won the Connemara championship at the Ponies of Britain show 8 years running. He also sired a foal that went on to win champion Polo Pony foal at the National pony Society (NPS) show; an unheard of success for a pony of native blood at that time.

In 2005 Connemara stallion, Bunowen Castle Ri, won both the ridden finals at Horse of the Year Show and Olympia.

At Madison Square Garden (New York) in 1939, the 13.2 hh Connemara, Littlesquire, won the Open Championship by clearing fences of seven feet. The American Press dubbed him "the littlest horse with the biggest heart."


Time line
1923 - The Connemara Pony Breeders Society was founded, in Galway.
1924 - First Connemara Breed show held.
1926 - First volume of the stud book published.
1947 - English Connemara Pony Society (ECPS) formed.
1947 - Connemara Breed show moved to Clifden.
1953 - ECPS reconstituted.
1956 - American Connemara Popny Society (ACPS) formed.
1969 - Association Française du Poney Connemara formed.
1975 - German Connemara Pony Society formed.
1979 - ECPS undertakes production of the stud book.
1984 - Connemara Pony Society of Finland formed.

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