10 Things You Didn’t Know About Connemara Pony

The Connemara pony is the Ireland’s only truly native breed. But like most “native” breeds there is a lot more to it than that one little fact! We all know the Connemara as the beautiful, full-maned Irish pony that is beloved by children and adults alike, but there are many more interesting facts about the Connemara that you may not know. Have a read on and find out about this Irish treasure.

1. It Originated From Scandinavian Ponies

Ireland’s only truly native breed

The Vikings brought the ancestors of these ponies to Ireland in 795 AD, but it wasn’t until the Spanish Armada ran aground in 1588 that the breed became closer to what it is as we know it today. The Spanish fleet released several Andalusian horses, which roamed wild and bred with the local ponies, injecting a dose of fine Spanish blood into the Irish wild horses.

Arabian blood has also been added to the breed to further refine it, which has contributed to the elegance of the breed and can be noted in the fact that many of them have dished faces. Hackneys and Thoroughbreds have also played their part in the breeding of this courageous little pony.

2. The Breed Wasn’t Established Until 1926

Despite the much earlier beginning of the breed, the Connemara wasn’t protected by an official society for hundreds of years. They were crossed with Arabs in the 1700s, and with Hackneys and Thoroughbreds after this, so the Connemara Pony Breeder’s Society was founded in 1923 to protect the bloodline from too much dilution, and they have stayed pretty much pure ever since.

3. Connemaras Are The Biggest Of The Pony Breeds

They range between 13 and 15 hands, and the average is 14 to 14.2. Despite their relatively small stature, they are very strong and hardy, and are capable of carrying full grown adults.

4. They Are Fantastic Jumpers

Connemara ponies have evolved with a goat-like jumping ability, because of their local craggy terrain and incredibly muscular hind quarters. This makes them ideally suited to show jumping and cross country. In 1935, a little Connemara named The Nugget cleared a fence of 7 foot 2 inches. He was 22 at the time!

5. These Ponies Are True Workhorses

Connemara ponies were well loved by rural Connemara families, who relied on the native ponies to help them on the farms. These tough little ponies could pull plows, haul seaweed and carry turf in carts to help the farmers maintain their daily lives – in fact, before the mechanisation of farm machinery, they were an absolutely essential part of the farming world. They have it a little easier these days, but they are still fondly remembered by history as being an invaluable help on rural farms.

6. Connemaras Have Amazing Temperaments

Although every horse is different and a lot depends on its upbringing and handling, in general Connemara ponies have wonderful natures, passed down through generations. They are willing to work, kind, caring and trusting, and they love human affection. This disposition makes them ideal for children or nervous adults.

7. They Are Very Versatile

These ponies can literally turn their hooves to just about any discipline you choose to throw at them. They have a natural jumping ability, and their rectangular frame and proud carriage makes them ideal for dressage. They are very athletic ponies and can excel in show jumping, eventing, dressage, driving and showing, and their calm natures make them perfect for beach and trail rides. Whatever you want to use a Connemara for, chances are he’ll be the best possible choice.

8. This Is A Low Maintenance Breed

Connemaras, because of their origins in rural rugged Ireland, can live out all year round and are very easy to keep. That being said, they are so efficient at making the most of poor grazing that they may need to have restricted turn out because they do so well!

Laminitis can be an issue for these good doers, as with so many native ponies who are unused to abundant grazing. Because of the climate they were bred in, they have extremely thick winter coats and may need to be clipped, but this efficient heating system means that even the coldest winters won’t bother them too much.

9. Connemaras Have Great Longevity

Native ponies are generally very robust, and the Connemara pony is no exception. It is very common for these little ponies to go on working well into their twenties, and they can still look like youngsters even in their 30s, though they will almost certainly slow down a bit and will benefit from a gentle retirement.

10. They Have Very Strong Feet

The feet are one of the most important parts of a horse – if his feet don’t work, then neither does he! The Connemara’s rugged landscape has contributed to its incredibly strong hooves. This is a great thing for you as the owner, as you won’t have to worry about crumbling hooves, sand cracks or splits, but may not be quite as much fun for your farrier who has to trim them.

If you are lucky enough to have a Connie, one of the most beautiful Irish breeds, in your life already, chances are that you will already now that he has a fantastic temperament and is a robust, strong pony. Now, hopefully you know a little more about your Emerald Isle export and can love him even more!

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Horses & Foals since 2017. Horses have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.


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