More a thousand years ago, small, Shetland-like ponies roamed the rocky coast of Western Ireland. They remained untouched by other breeds of horses until the fifth and sixth century, when raiders brought Celtic ponies with them. These ponies bred with the Shetland-like one. Over the next few centuries, more horses, possibly Spanish Jennets(extinct) and Irish Hobby horses, came to Western Ireland, mixing with the native breed. The result was the famous Connemara, who is believed to have inherited its smooth gaits from the Jennet and the Hobby horses.
|The Connemara |
Throughout the 19th century, Arabian blood was continually added to the Connemara as a way of refining it. However, in the late 1800s, the number of Connemara took a plunge. Many died during the Potato Famine, when people had better things to worry about than the continuation of the breed. Nevertheless, the breed managed to survive through the Irish government's efforts to preserve it by adding Hackney, Thoroughbred, Norfolk, Yorkshire Roadster, and Welsh blood to it. Today, the government still checks the beed yearly, inspecting it to see whether it is suitable for breeding.
Breed Description and Uses
Connemaras are nimble, sure-footed horses, able to leap stone walls and canter over uneven ground. Standing 12.2 to 15 hands high, the ponies have round haunches and long legs with high knee action and ground-covering strides. Their coats come in brown, dun, black, gray, and chestnut.
Because of their athletic ability, Connemaras are often used are sport horses in England.