The Connemara Pony
Legend has it that the Connemara Pony descended from horses of the Spanish Armada that swam ashore after being shipwrecked in 1588. Nowadays, this notion is dismissed by the expert as a mere fantasy. How this paragon among ponies developed is unclear. One school of though is that is descended from Barb and Spanish horses introduced into the west of Ireland as early as the 6th century. Another theory is that when trading commenced in the 12th and 13th century between the Iberian Peninsula and the west coast of Ireland, it is highly likely that large quantities of horses were imported and exchanged at that time. These mated with the native pony and eventually a unique animal was established and became known as the ‘Connemara Pony’. The breed undoubtedly does shown signs of Spanish and Eastern blood to this day and the latter theory would appear to be realistic.
Whatever the source of origin of the Pony, towards the end of the 19th century it became very close to extinction and great fears and concerns were expressed. In view of this, efforts were made to address the problem from about 1890 to 1923, but without any success. However, on the 12th of December 1923, a meeting was called by a Mr. W.G. Fogarty of all Connemara Pony Breeders at Sweeneys Hotel in Oughterard.
A decision was taken at that meeting to form a Connemara Pony Breeders Society and this proved to be a major landmark in the survival and development of the Pony. It was also decided at this meeting to set clear objectives to revive and improve the Pony. The most important of these was regarded as the publication of a Stud Book for animals passed as eligible for registration. In the early days of its life, the Society endured very difficult times but succeeded to survive and thrive to the present time. Today, the quality, substance, versatility and character of the Connemara Pony bears testimony and respect to all of the great members of the Councils and Breeders for their efforts.
The Midlands and the Connemara Pony
While the Connemara Pony is synonymous with Galway and in particular the Connemara area, it must be acknowledged that a very significant contribution has also been made by many dedicated people in other parts of Ireland. In this regard, none more so that the heart of Ireland, better known as ‘The Midlands’. Some very respected stud farms such as Abbeyleix, Garryhinch, Irishtown, Monaghanstown and Kilpatrick became established in this particular area. These farms in turn have been credited for the breeding of some very famous ponies such as Abbeyleix Owen, Abbeyleix Fionn, Irishtown Diana, Irishtown Beauty, Garryhinch Finn, Garryhinch Millrace, Monaghanstown Fionn, Monaghanstown Fred and Kilpatrick Fionn to mention but some.
Because of the tradition and involvement of the Midlands area in the Connemara Pony, the ‘Midland Connemara Pony Breeders’ (M.C.P.B.) was formed in June 2002. The aims and objectives of the group are realistic and simple, but also very focused. The group shall support and assist the parent Society in their continued development and enhancement of the Pony maintaining the tradition and standards set by individuals long past. A primary objective of the group is to provide educational programmes for all its members and which shall address all aspects of the Pony from animal selection to animal welfare. In addition, the group strives to support its members in relation to the sales and purchases of animals.
The group looks forward to the future and the continued breeding of quality ponies. It is also the wishes of the group that all breeders and supporters within the area acknowledge its intentions and aspirations and find it prudent to become members in due course.
For the group to achieve its goals and ambitions, the availability of financial resources shall be necessary. In this regard, the group must continue to raise funds. However, any person or company wishing to offer sponsorship or a donation, shall be very much appreciated and the group shall endeavour to acknowledge the gesture in a most appropriate way.
Click here to see the current rules and regulations for the Midlands Connemara Pony Breeders.