Why I Love Connemara Ponies
Beautiful Connemara Ponies from Ireland
Why do I love Connemara ponies?
These good-natured, hardy and intelligent ponies have a very special place in my heart. Although I adore all horses, ponies and donkeys, there is something that always makes my heart soar when I see a Connemara. Here's why...
When I was a teenager, I went through mad phases where I got totally obsessed with things. The X-Files and collecting vintage Star Wars action figurines are two prime examples! Around the age of 13, I fell completely and utterly in love with horses and ponies. I learned everything I could about them, from the different parts of saddles and bridles to the name of every single horse breed and colour!
More than once I could be heard pleading at home, "Can I have a pony pleeeease?" to no avail. Alas, we had neither the room nor the finance for a horse, so I had to make do with books, magazines, films and models from Breyer and Julip. Luckily, however, I became good friends with a girl at school who DID have a pony. Her name was Miss Muffet (the pony, that is, not the girl!) and she was, as you might have guessed, a Connemara pony.
This is her in the picture - a gorgeous dun delight! Little Miss Muffet taught me to ride, and this is my tribute to her.
Photo Credits: All photos are copyright of the author unless otherwise stated. Please do not use elsewhere without permission, thank you.
Introducing Little Miss Muffet...
She sat on a tuffet, eating her carrots and hay!
Here's me when I was about 14 or 15, with Miss Muffet. I was a very shy child, which continued into teenage-hood, and was not particularly adventurous. So I was a little nervous about getting on a horse, but luckily I had Muffet to guide me! She was a very good pony, typical of the Connemara, who is said to be well tempered and a good jumper.
I remember the thrill of riding her for the first time, and eventually building up to trot, then rising trot, and once, even a canter (not by choice - cheeky little Muffet decided to bolt for the other side of the paddock!)
My friend even coerced me into trying a jump - although as you can see, it wasn't very high! It seemed like a massive leap to me at the time though!!
What is a Connemara Pony?
Learn about this Hardy Breed
Connemara ponies hail from the West Coast of Ireland - Connemara to be precise, which is a beautiful area in County Galway.
This broad peninsula stretches between Killary Harbour and Kilkieran Bay in south west Connacht, and the name derives from Conmhaicne Mara, which means descendants of Con Mhac (of the sea).
Despite its beauty, it is a harsh landscape, and hence the ponies have evolved as a very hardy breed. Much of the area is bog, shown here.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons - Copyright Christophe Meneboeuf
The Connemara pony has existed in Western Ireland for many years, although its exact origins are unknown. However, there are theories as to where it originated - one is that it was developed from Scandinavian ponies first brought to Ireland by the Vikings, while others link it to a now-extinct, pre-13th century breed called the Irish Hobby. Legend, meanwhile, says that Spanish galleons ran aground in 1588 from the Armada, and their Andalusian horses bred with the native ponies.
Typically, the Connemara is grey, like the one above. But they can also be bay, black, brown, dun (like Miss Muffet), and also occasionally roan, chestnut or palomino.
Standing at 13 to 14.2 hands high, the Connemara is said to be a good natured, intelligent, sensible pony, with a good temper and jumping ability that makes it ideal for a child's pony and for showjumping.
It also has mighty fine stock in its veins. In the 1700's, Arabian blood was added, and it was later crossed with Hackneys and Thoroughbreds. However, increased crossbreeding began to dilute the pony bloodlines, and so the Connemara Pony Breeder's Society was formed in the 1920s which began working to preserve the breed.
Jigsaw of HORSE
Connemara Pony, Stallion from Ardea
Black Connemara Stallion Running in Field Elizabeth, Colorado, USA Photographic Poster Print by Carol Walker, 24x32
A movie all about the care and showing of a Connemara.
Remembering Miss Muffet - A Connemara with Heart!
All good things come to an end, and, eventually, both my friend and I grew too big to ride Miss Muffet. My friend bought a new horse called Sunny, who was a bit frisky for me, so I took to riding her mum's shire horse, Dolly. Bless Dolly, she was a bit of a plod, and you could rarely get a trot out of her, but she was a beautiful horse!
Miss Muffet retired to galloping around the paddock. School came to an end, and I saw less of my friend. She eventually sold Muffet, much to my dismay, so I don't know what happened to her in the end. I lost touch with my friend, but I often think of Muffet. She may well have gone to the great paddock in the sky by now, but she will live on in my horsey heart!
Connemara Pony Showcase - Tribute Video to the Connemara Pony
Here is a great clip show of Connemara pony images set to "Fly on the Wings of Love".
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