Saturday, 4 June 2011

Rideability and Temperament

I took a little bit of a punt when I purchased Brennan. I knew quite a bit about the Connemara breed and was confident that the breed attributes* fit perfectly with what we are trying to breed/produce here at Talisman Farm but I had no personal experience of Connemara ponies here in NZ and only minimal experience of them in the UK. Brennan was basically a nicely bred and very handsome 3 year old colt who had had light handling. I didn't go and meet him myself before making the decision to purchase. He had been recommended to me by a friend and I did, of course, have photos and video to go over and I had him looked at by a close friend whose opinion I trusted and was more than happy with the feedback she gave me and so, up he came.

Brennan settled in here pretty quickly, although took a while to come to terms with wearing a cover and he tended to be a bit spooky from time to time so I did wonder how all of this might translate under saddle. Fortunately we have a wonderful horseman in our neck of the woods by the name of Gavin Morison and I sent Brennan to him to be started (Gavin started Meg and Reilly for me as well). Gavin commented very favorably on Brennan's temperament at the time we picked him up and he was finished and ready to come home in under 4 weeks so I knew I must have a good 'un.

Brennan's really just going from strength to strength and simply has not put a foot wrong since he came home. He takes everything that is thrown at him and never throws anything back. From time to time he likes to puff himself up and pretend he is wild but it's all a big show and never comes to anything. It does make me laugh though.

In textbook Brennan style, today he went from being a dressage pony, trying very hard for his rider and working on stretching and lengthening exercises, lateral work and transitions and rein backs, to being a loose rein kickalong riding pony for a weekend rider. He is so happy to adjust himself to his rider that I feel confident about putting anyone on his back, knowing that he won't do anything naughty or dangerous. This speaks volumes when it comes to his temperament and rideability. I am just so excited about what we can breed from him and his performance career. What a great 'ride' this is going to be!!!

Brennan being a kick-along pony for Lucinda

*Connemaras are strong and sturdy with a short back and sloped, muscular croup. The hindquarters are powerful. The shoulder is sloped and long. Their legs have short, strong cannons and hard feet and a good stride length. The breed has a fine head with small ears and usually a slightly dished profile set on a well-arched neck. The Connemara is considered hardy and agile, with good jumping ability. The Connemara has a lively but eager and trainable temperament, tends to be long-lived and is described as intelligent. They are hardy and are excellent mounts for children & adults.

Connemara Breed Standards - Set By The CPBS Of Ireland

If a Connemara pony is to be passed as Grade 1 on inspection, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Height: 12.2 to 14.2 hands (50 to 58 inches, 127 to 147 cm).
  • Colours: Grey, black, Bay, Brown, Dun with occasional Roan & Chestnut, Palomino and Cremello, called Blue Eyed Cream.
  • Type: Compact, well-balanced riding type with good depth and substance and good heart room, standing on short legs, covering a lot of ground.
  • Head: well-balanced pony head of medium length with good width between large kindly eyes. Pony ears, well-defined cheekbone jaw relatively deep but not coarse.
  • Front: Head well set onto neck. Crest should not be over developed. Neck not set too low. Good length of rein. Well-defined withers, good sloping shoulders.
  • Body: Deep, with strong back, some length permissible but should be well-ribbed up and with strong loin.
  • Limbs: Good length and strength in forearm, well-defined knees and short cannons, with flat bone *measuring 18cms to 21cms. Elbows should be free. Pasterns of medium length, feet well shaped, of medium size, hard and level.
  • Hind Quarters: Strong and Muscular with some length, well-developed second thighs (Gaskin) and strong low-set hocks.
  • Movement: free, easy and true, without undue knee action, but active and covering ground.

If they do not meet this specification then they will be given a Grade 2 or Grade 3 on inspection.

The Connemara is best known today as a sports pony. Ridden by both children and adults, it is considered to be 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.