The Connemara Pony is a pony breed originating in Connemara. They are known for their athleticism, versatility and good disposition. The breed makes excellent show ponies.
The Connemara region in County Galway, where the breed first became recognized as a distinct type, is a very harsh landscape, thus giving rise to a pony breed of hardy, strong individuals. Some believe that the Connemara developed from Scandinavian ponies that the Vikings first brought to Ireland. Another source was likely the Irish Hobby, a now-extinct breed established prior to the 13th century. Legend, however, says that galleons from the Spanish Armada ran aground in 1588, and the Andalusians on board were set loose. The Spanish horses bred with the native stock, refining the local ponies.
For additional strength and stamina, Arabian blood was added in the 18th century. They were also crossed with Hackneys and Thoroughbreds. Too much crossbreeding began to dilute the pony bloodlines, so the Connemara Pony Breeders' Society, founded in 1923, worked to preserve the breed type. The stud book was established in 1926. Today, Connemaras are bred worldwide in Ireland and Britain, as well as on the European continent, North America, Australasia and South Africa.
Connemaras are strong and sturdy with a short back and sloped, muscular croup. The hindquarters are powerful. The shoulder is sloped and long. Their legs have short, strong cannons and hard feet and a good stride length. The breed has a fine head with small ears and usually a slightly dished profile set on a well-arched neck. The Connemara is considered hardy and agile, with good jumping ability. The Connemara has a lively but eager and trainable temperament, tends to be long-lived and is described as intelligent. They are hardy and are excellent mounts for children.
Connemaras in North America range from 13 to 15 hands (52 to 60 inches, 132 to 152 cm). Recognized colors are gray, bay, brown (genetically, a darker variant of bay), and dun, with some roans, an occasional black, chestnut, or palomino. Pinto patterns, called piebald and skewbald by the Connemara registry, are not acceptable for registration.
Connemara Breed Standards - Set By The CPBS Of Ireland
If a Connemara pony is to be passed as Grade 1 on inspection, it must meet the following criteria:
Height: 12.2 to 14.2 hands (50 to 58 inches, 127 to 147 cm).
Colours: Grey, black, Bay, Brown, Dun with occasional Roan & Chestnut, Palomino and Cremello, called Blue Eyed Cream.
Type: Compact, well-balanced riding type with good depth and substance and good heart room, standing on short legs, covering a lot of ground.
Head: well-balanced pony head of medium length with good width between large kindly eyes. Pony ears, well-defined cheekbone jaw relatively deep but not coarse.
Front: Head well set onto neck. Crest should not be over developed. Neck not set too low. Good length of rein. Well-defined withers, good sloping shoulders.
Body: Deep, with strong back, some length permissible but should be well-ribbed up and with strong loin.
Limbs: Good length and strength in forearm, well-defined knees and short cannons, with flat bone *measuring 18cms to 21cms. Elbows should be free. Pasterns of medium length, feet well shaped, of medium size, hard and level.
Hind Quarters: Strong and Muscular with some length, well-developed second thighs (Gaskin) and strong low-set hocks.
Movement: free, easy and true, without undue knee action, but active and covering ground.
If they do not meet this specification then they will be given a Grade 2 or Grade 3 on inspection.
Connemara Pony Shows:
Connemara Pony shows are held worldwide, however the most famous of all being the Annual Clifden Connemara Pony Show which takes place every August at the Showgrounds, Clifden, Co. Galway. There are 22 in-hand classes and 10 ridden classes. The Connemara Pony Show offers breeders and visitors the chance to witness the very best of Connemara Ponies on display. There is also a dog show, Irish dancing, domestic arts, basket making, and a traditional market day on the streets of Clifden.
The Connemara is best known today as a sports pony. Ridden by both children and adults, it is considered to be a very versatile pony breed, competitive in show jumping, dressage and eventing, but also with the stamina for endurance riding. They are also shown in harness.