“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
While not exactly rare, Connemaras are certainly not one of the most common pony breeds in North America. They are Ireland’s native pony breed- heralding from the rocky, rugged west coast of Ireland- Connemara. Though previously, the Connemara pony’s origins were lost in the mists of time, new DNA methods are helping to clear those mists. There is no question the Irish Hobby had a huge influence, and was a definite precursor, to the Connemara Pony breed as we now have it. In fact, the Irish Hobby was the precursor to both the Connemara and the Irish Draught. It is also a very important piece of what became the American Running Horse, the precursor to the American Thoroughbred. A fabulously athletic horse with endurance, stamina, strength, and a good temperament, the Irish hobby’s genetics are found in many modern day sport breeds. The Connemara pony itself was required to be a versatile, tough, and rugged individual- the same pony often working on the farm, hunting across the rocky landscape, and driving the family to mass on Sunday, all the while raising a foal at foot to provide additional income for the family. Perhaps because of their constant closeness to their people, Connemaras have developed to form a strong and lasting bond with their chosen humans. Of course, they have the famed Irish “fifth leg” and are amazingly athletic. Size rarely seems to matter as they happily tackle the same tasks horses hands taller seem to struggle to complete. There have been many, many Connemaras throughout the years who have amazed and thrilled audiences with their exuberance and desire to perform. Especially noteworthy is the Connemara/Thoroughbred cross of which there have been several stellar individuals competing at the top of their chosen disciplines.
“…listen close to me- Anything can happen, child, anything can be.”
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
In a sea of giants, why choose the little guy?
Does size truly matter? Connemaras are smart, agile, and game. They want to get to the other side of the jump. They want to master that shoulder-in. They want to gallop the water complex. The best part of Connemara ponies is their innate curiosity and willingness to “go and do” with their humans. The same ponies who are shown in the 3’6″ jumpers one day, carry a kid around a 2’6″ halloween derby the next. The same pony stallion who covers a mare in the morning, gives a lesson to a junior that afternoon- a group lesson that includes two stallions, two mares, and a gelding or two. These ponies who are competitive in open competition turn around and hack bareback with halters and lead ropes around the show grounds each evening. They are simply fun. We’ve taken our ponies swimming in the Atlantic Ocean…and in our pond. We’ve galloped through flooded ditches…and jumped over them. At 18 years old, our broodmare, Wildwych Dreamtime, took a six month “break” from being a broodmare and turned her hand to being a jumper pony- she maxed out at 1.20m, was a rockstar at 1.10m- not bad for a not quite 14.1 hand life long broodmare who, yes, was in foal during those six months. Our ponies have been on TV sets and movie sets, at snoball stands, churches, picnics, large and small hunter jumper shows, Connemara shows, and Horse Trials across the south, clinics- dressage, hunter/jumper, and groundwork clinics, game days and trail rides, are ridden by all levels in group and private lessons, have galloped cross country- both for fun and in competition, been decorated for costume classes or just for fun at home…the list goes on and on. Connemaras LOVE to do new and interesting things with their humans. The more you ask of them, the more they find to give.
“If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.”