Name of breed: Connemara Pony
Country of origin: Ireland
Breed origin: There is a region in Western Ireland, in the county of Galway, that is known as the Connemara region. It is a very harsh landscape, giving rise to this breed of hardy, strong ponies. There are a number of theories as to how the breed came to be: some believe the Connemara developed from Scandinavian ponies that the Vikings brought to Ireland; others believe it is descendant from the Irish Hobby, a breed that is now extinct but was established prior to the 13th century. There is also a legend that says the Spanish Armada ran aground in 1588 and the Andalusians on board were set loose, breeding with the native stock and refining the local ponies. Whatever the origins, the Connemara Pony is strong and athletic.
Distinguishing features: Usually between 12.2 to 14.2hh, these sturdy ponies have strong, muscular legs and well-defined knees and hocks. They are intelligent creatures with an easy temperament, suitable for both adults and children. The Connemara pony is known for its all-round athleticism, able to jump as well as perform in the show ring.
Modern day Connemara Pony: Best known today as a sports pony and ridden by both adults and children, the Connemara is a very versatile pony breed, competitive in show jumping, dressage and eventing, but also with the stamina for endurance riding. They are also shown in harness and are bred worldwide.
Image credit: Kyle Connemara Ponies