Are you considering buying a pony? Then you have the choice between many different breeds. In this article, you will find a wealth of information about the Connemara Pony and its special features.

Breed description

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Connemara ponies are an Irish breed of horse. Usually, they are called ponies, although the largest representatives reach the size of a small horse.

They are considered to be particularly balanced and docile. Some breeders claim that a Connemara can be taught anything. In their Irish homeland, the robust horses have long been used for fieldwork and for pulling carts or carriages.

They are also ideal as mounts in rough terrain. In the meantime, Connemaras have become an indispensable part of all equestrian sports. Connemaras are usually between 128 cm and 148 cm tall.

Occasionally they get bigger. This makes them suitable as riding horses for children, adolescents, and adults who are not too heavy. Her well-proportioned physique is striking. When compared to other pony breeds from the British Isles, they look more like a small warmblood than a typical semi-wild pony.

They are well-muscled and have strong bones. Her watchful eyes and her lively ear-play betray a constant interest in her surroundings.

A dense fur allows the animals to cope well with wind, cold and wet. The long hair consists of a well-developed forehead, long mane, bushy tail, and medium-length droppings.

Origin and breed history

The home of the Connemaras is in the region of the same name in the west of Ireland. It extends west from Lough Corrib to the Atlantic coast. Scandinavian ponies, who came to Ireland with the Vikings, are believed to be the ancestors of today’s pony breed.

It can be assumed that the Celts began breeding and developing them. As of 1588, some of the wild ponies may have mated with Spanish riding horses that survived the fall of the Spanish Armada and came ashore in Ireland.

Refinement attempts with Arabs and English thoroughbreds in the 18th century finally led to the definition of a uniform breeding standard for the Connemara breed.

The breeding history of the Connemaras

In 1923, the Connemara Pony Breeders ‘Society is founded in Clifden, County Galway. The aim is to set breeding standards and to breed an independent, high-performance pony breed through a careful selection of mares and stallions.

A year later the first Connemara Pony Show takes place. In 1926 the stud book was created with the data of 9 stallions and 93 mares. In the following decades the number of registered animals increased continuously.

In 1999 there were already over 1000 stallions and more than 11600 mares. In international sport, Connemara ponies draw attention to themselves with exceptional performance.

A famous example is Stroller, who won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in 1968 and completed the demanding course of the German Jumping Derby in 1970 without any mistakes.

International Connemara breed

The Connemara Pony is known far beyond Ireland’s borders. The versatile horses have been popular in the British Isles for centuries and can be seen at horse shows and tournaments everywhere.

They are also considered to be persistent hunting ponies. The Connemara is often used in tournament sports across Europe. It has an excellent jumping talent and is suitable for advanced dressage tasks.

The first breeders interested in the breed can be found in Germany in the mid-1960s. Since then, the attractive ponies have also established themselves here. The breeding standards are based on those of the Irish Stud Book of Origin.

Outside of Europe, there are Connemara breeding associations, for example in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

The appearance of the Connemara

The breeding standard specifies a number of characteristics that a Connemara pony should meet. This includes a clearly defined head of medium length with a broad forehead. Connemaras are said to have a rather high, strong neck without a noticeable crest, which tapers towards the top.

Your physique is rectangular. The legs are straight and strong, with short tubes and pronounced joints. A strong back, sloping shoulder, and sufficient elbow room are ideal for use in sports.

At the time of entry, the height at the withers must be between 128 cm and 148 cm. Due to the influences of other horse breeds, there are lighter and heavier types of the Connemaras.

They can be roughly divided as follows:

Clifden type

These Connemaras correspond to the original pony type.

Eastern type

This is a relatively petite type of pony that is influenced by thoroughbred Arabian blood.

Irish draft type

This heavier type shows influences from the Irish draft and workhorse breeds.

Connemara ponies are bred in all colors. Mold and dun are particularly common. There are also brown ones. Foxes and black horses are rare. Pinto colors and piebalds are not welcome.

The striking colors include:

Isabelle, Palomino (English mostly: cream)
Braunisabelle (English: buckskin)
Graver-haired (English: roan)

Temperament and essence

The Connemara Pony is known to be extremely reliable and well-balanced. The animals are therefore ideal as children’s ponies and patient school horses.

For tournament sport, your stamina, surefootedness, intelligence, and motivation are particularly important. With good care and species-appropriate husbandry, they appear relaxed and people-oriented.

When choosing a Connemara pony, it is important to get enough exercise and activity. The breed has been thought of as a capable work and hunting horse since its inception.

Living in a box in the riding stables with a maximum of one hour of exercise per day is not enough. In order for the animals to feel comfortable and stay balanced, they need variety, exercise, and plenty of contact with people and their fellow species.

Husbandry and nutrition

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Connemaras are a frugal, robust pony breed. You have various options for accommodation.

Boxing stance

A riding stable offers your pony a lot of protection, but the classic riding stable box is not the ideal solution for a Connemara. Usually, the walls are too high and prevent contact with other animals.

The bright Connemaras are bored and can develop bad habits. That is why you should provide plenty of exercise and employment opportunities when keeping your boxes.

If you don’t have enough time for this, you can look around for reliable and experienced riding participation. If the stable offers grazing in the summer, it is important to get your pony used to it gradually.

Especially with robust breeds, the sudden switch to grass forage carries the risk of colic or laminitis.

Playpen

Connemaras are well suited for keeping in the playpen. They feel comfortable in the herd and usually have no problems integrating into the herding group.

The stable must be big enough for all animals. 3 x 3 m and a feeding station should be available for each pony or a small horse.

When housed in a closed playpen, your Connemara needs enough exercise in the fresh air, for example by letting it run in the paddock, pasture, horse riding or going for a walk.

Robust posture

Connemaras are ideal for robust keeping. Your coat copes well with adverse weather conditions. A stable shelter or open stable is essential for this type of housing.

It offers protection from wind and weather, serves as a shade and retreat. The paddock area, fences, drinking troughs, and feed manger must be regularly checked and cared for in order to ensure good care and avoid injuries.

In the summer months, sturdy horses have more difficulties than stable horses with vermin such as horseflies or ticks. Long-term moisture can lead to hoof problems.

Nutrition

The feed requirement depends on the actual consumption. Regular concentrate feed – regardless of whether it is pellets or oats – is only required in the case of particular physical strain.

High-quality roughage is important. Apples and carrots improve the supply of nutrients, but should not be fed in large quantities. The loss of electrolytes can be compensated for with a salt lick stone.

Nursing mares and ponies as they grow older have an increased need for protein. Mineral feed is only necessary if a deficiency has to be compensated for.

This can be the case with sick animals, with heavily stressed animals or when the normal feed is poor in minerals.

Education and care

Good parenting is important. Because even if Connemaras aren’t the largest horses and are usually easy to get along with, they have to learn some rules of conduct.

Upbringing

Young horses should be used to being touched by people at an early stage and to respect them as guides. Shy touch and very dominant animals are not particularly suitable for riding and driving purposes.

Foals learn to accept a soft halter. Gentle brushing and careful lifting of the hooves are also part of the program early on. A little later, obedience is practiced while leading.

At the age of two to three years, the first steps in riding and driving training take place: getting used to the saddle, bridle, and harness as well as lean.

The right time for this depends on the animal’s individual level of development. Some grow up quickly, but there are also many late-developing ponies.

Riding and driving training for Connemara ponies

As soon as a pony is strong enough, it can be broken into. Due to their origin, the Connemaras are very sure-footed and feel good in the great outdoors. They are reliable mounts to ride in, no matter what your terrain is like.

Due to their docility and good gait, they can be trained for a wide variety of riding disciplines.

The possible uses of the ponies include:

  • Dressage
  • Leap
  • versatility
  • Endurance riding
  • Western pleasure
  • Trail

If you want to ride hunts, you have to get your pony used to get along with hunting dogs such as beagles and terriers. You can just as easily use a Connemara for driving.

Because of their balanced character, Connemaras are suitable as therapy horses after appropriate training.

Maintenance

The care required for the pony depends on the type of husbandry and the intended use. If your pony is in the paddock in the herd, you don’t have to brush it every day.

However, a daily check is recommended so that you can identify illnesses or injuries at an early stage. When kept in stables, regular grooming partly replaces social contact with other members of the same species. Therefore, you should take your pony out of the box every day, brush it off and keep busy with it.

Grooming is mandatory before and after riding. Careful hoof care is important for all horses. What exactly needs to be done depends on whether or not you are getting your pony shod. Horseshoes have to be changed at certain intervals and the hooves cut out.

The latter also applies to horses without shoeing. If your Connemara is in the paddock, you must regularly check that all hooves are in order. Injuries are just as possible as changes to the hoof substance in persistently wet weather.

Competition ponies require particularly intensive care during the competition season. In addition to the effort for the training units, you have to plan time for warming up and dry riding.

Before the competition, there is preparatory work such as plaiting. After the tournament, you should treat your pony to a relaxing care session.

Health and Typical Diseases

The sturdy ponies rarely get sick if they are kept in a species-appropriate manner. Regular grooming, enough exercise, enough clean water, and good quality food are good health insurance.

If overfed, they tend to be indigestion and obese. Sports and hunting ponies have an increased risk of injury from accidents or overexertion.

The hereditary disease HWSD (Hoof Wall Separation Disease) can occur in Connemaras. In this disease, the formation of horns on the hooves is disturbed, which leads to a detachment of the hoof wall.

There are milder cases that can be treated and severe cases where the ponies cannot walk properly at all. Inheritance is only possible if both father and mother animals carry the corresponding gene.

The life expectancy of the Connemara

Connemara ponies can reach a great age. An age of 20 to 30 years is not uncommon with appropriately good husbandry.

Buy Connemara horse breed

If you are interested in a Connemara pony, you have the option of contacting breeders or sales stalls. Another option is sales exchanges on the Internet or in horse magazines.

The price range is very wide. It makes a difference whether you buy a young animal that has not yet been broken into or a successful competition pony.

Because of their good characteristics, Connemaras are often crossed with other breeds. Therefore, in addition to pure-bred Connemaras, you will also find ponies with only father or mother Connemara in the sales advertisements.

Decision support

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A horse as a pet? Why not! If you are looking for reliable and robust leisure or sports pony, the Connemara is a good choice. Its versatility and adaptability allow you to use it in many areas.

The well-balanced animals are also ideal as a family pony that has to get along with very different riders. It should be noted that a Connemara pony can be comparatively expensive to purchase.

Only you can decide for yourself whether an offered animal corresponds to your price expectations. In addition to the purchase costs, you have to expect costs for feed, accommodation, veterinarian, and animal insurance over a longer period of time.

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