~ The Connemara Pony ~
Shown above is Castle Baron
, Winner of Connemara Stallion Championship, Supreme Champion Connemara, and Supreme All Breeds Pony of the Show at the Australian Stud Book Show in Queensland, March 20-21, 2004. Castle Baron (“Henry”) is half-sibling of Thornapple Farms’ Connemara mare, Maumturk Heather (“Silky”). Both are sired by Abbeyleix Owen.
The Connemara Pony is a native Irish breed that has evolved over 2500 hundred years hardy existence in the rocky terrain and often wild weather of western Ireland. Believed to be rooted in ancient European origins, the Connemara Pony’s ancestors likely arrived in Ireland with the early Celts. They were a necessary component of man’s own evolution on the island - work, pack, travel, warfare, and food. The ponies are hardy and adaptable and today valued for their athleticism, greatness of heart, intelligence and tranquility of soul. Ranging from 13 to 15 hands, Connemaras can do it all - Dressage, Jumping, Hunting, Combined Training, Combined Driving Eventing, Carriage, Pleasure Driving, Endurance, Herding, or just Teaching a Child to Ride.
Connemara Pony Breed Standard
Type and Conformation
Connemaras range from 13 to over 15 hands. Their colors are gray, bay, brown, and dun, with some roans, an
occasional black, chestnut, or palomino. Piebalds and skewbalds are not acceptable for registration. Connemaras are the product of their original environment, the rugged mountain coast of
West Ireland. Sure-footed, hardy and agile, they possess powers of great stamina, staying power and adaptability. They are renowned for their
versatility and their gentle, tractable, sensible and willing dispositions.
Mannerly and manageable, kind, responsive, possessing good sense and basic intelligence.
Rugged and sturdy; body compact and deep through the heart; with well sprung rib cage and broad chest.
Straight and true both front and rear with free movement in the shoulders. Connemaras should move underneath themselves and should
be sure-footed, athletic, and clever, covering a lot of ground.
Kind eye, head well shaped and balanced in
proportion to the rest of the body, neck of good length and definition, meeting
the shoulder smoothly.
Laid-back with good slope.
Strong and muscular; some length of back is normal
in Connemaras, especially in mares.
Well rounded and deep with good length from the
point of the hip through the haunch; should balance the shoulders.
Clean, hard, flat, measuring 7- 8 inches below the
knee for ponies, more for horses; forearms and gaskins long and muscular,
cannons short and very dense.
Large and well defined.
Photo courtesy Sue Clarke, Glenormiston Connemaras, Australia
Breed Standard is from the American Connemara Pony Society, www.acps.org
~ The Connemara Pony ~
Some Connemara lore:
In 1935 at the International Horse Show, Olympia, London, the 15 hand overgrown Connemara
gelding, THE NUGGET, became a legendary show jumper. At age 22, he cleared a 7' 2" jump and
subsequently won over 300 prizes internationally, earning over 4,500 pounds sterling in prize
At Madison Square Garden, New York, in 1939, the 13.2 hand Connemara, LITTLE SQUIRE, won the
Open Championship by clearing fences of seven feet. The American Press dubbed him " the
littlest horse with the biggest heart."
DUNDRUM, Tommy Wade's 15 hand Connemara gelding became Supreme Champion at the Wembley Horse
of the Year Show when he set a record by clearing a 7' 2" puissance wall. In 1961, he was
regarded as show jumper of the century when he won five major events at the Dublin Horse
Show. It was the first time in history that so many awards were won by the same rider, let
alone the same horse! He was the International Jumping Champion from 1959 to 1963.
Some Connemara part-bred notables:
STROLLER, a 14.1+ Connemara halfbred became the only pony to have ever competed in an Olympic
Games. He was a member of the British Team competing in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, ridden
by Marion Coakes. Bill Steinkraus and SNOWBOUND won the Gold Medal while Marion and STROLLER
won the Individual Silver Medal, only four points behind Steinkraus. He was one of only two
horses to jump a clear round in the entire 1968 Olympics, clearing a puissance fence of 6'
MARCUS AURELIUS, also known as The Bionic Pony, was a Connemara/Thoroughbred ridden by Mary
Anne Tauskey. They competed in the 1975 Pan American Games as members of the USET which won
the Gold Medal in the Three Day Event. In 1976, they were members of the United States Three
Day Event Team; again, they were members of the Gold Medal winning team.
In 1985, two of the top six Grand Prix USDF Horse of the Year Awards went to Connemara
halfbreds. Lendon Gray has earned worldwide recognition while riding the
Connemara/Thoroughbreds, SELDOM SEEN and LAST SCENE in upper level international dressage
Lana Dupont Wright has successfully driven her Connemara/Thoroughbred geldings in a number of
international pairs competitions and two World Championships.
Famous and family Connemaras alike are all treasured friends to their owners
and people close to them. Please take a moment to share their pride and these
photos that they have generously allowed us to present:
Many thanks to the people who have generously contributed photos and stories:
Karen Gross (PA), Sabine Dröge, Glenormiston Connemaras of Australia, Inez Kooij of The Netherlands