Connemara ponies are known for being among the friendliest and most intelligent horses. Their easy-to-tame nature and incredible versatility make having them on your property a delight.
Connemaras were originally bred by poor Irish farmers that couldn’t afford to have multiple different horses for the various tasks on the farm. So they created one adaptable breed that could do it all!
These marvelous ponies continue to be versatile, competing in jumping, dressage, eventing, and driving. But they are just as handy as they ever were to have on the homestead if competing isn’t your thing.
History of Connemara Ponies
Ireland is known for its stormy skies and beautiful landscapes, but did you know that Connemara ponies are from Ireland?
Their name refers to the area of Ireland known as Connemara, which is part of the larger region of Galway, though their precise origin is unclear. This breed came to America in 1951 when the American Connemara Pony Society was created.
Connemaras are resistant and hardy to adverse weather. These ponies are used to harsh weather conditions and cold temperatures. They’re ideal for working on homesteads pulling carts with heavy loads, as transportation, as companions, and for plowing.
Characteristics of Connemara Ponies
Connemara ponies are agile and they thrive in rocky terrain with steep inclines. No wonder, since they come from an environment with jagged cliffs and harsh, rocky landscapes.
They can also run fast and achieve impressive jump heights despite challenging terrain, making them an excellent choice if you enter equestrian competitions like cross country or hunting.
These ponies are between 54-60 inches tall, or 13.2 to 15 hands high. They’re considered ponies, not horses, though we’ll refer to them as both in this guide.
These ponies come in grey, black, brown, and sometimes chestnut. Connemara ponies are calm, easily trained, friendly, and usually bombproof, making them suitable for small children learning to ride a horse for the first time.
How To Use a Connemara Pony on Your Homestead
Besides riding, there are other practical reasons for keeping a Connemara pony. Of course, you can enjoy a ride around your property, but you can also efficiently transport materials from one area to another.
Connemara ponies are strong enough to pull a loaded cart. This means you can use your horse to collect chopped wood and take it back to your home. Or to move feed around the fields.
Despite their small stature, they can pull up to 1,000 pounds.
But they aren’t just reliable workers. While not every homesteader likes to ride competitively, you can ride your ponies for fun, have them help around the homestead, and compete!
Looking After Your Connemara Pony
Deciding to bring home a Connemara pony is only the first step. You also have to ensure they have a happy and healthy life by looking after them correctly.
To help you get started, here are the essential tips for raising a Connemara pony:
- Provide hay, grass, grain, and additional supplements, as needed
- Always give them access to fresh water
- Provide room to run and a shelter to hide under
- Make sure they get enough exercise
- Care for their hooves, teeth, and skin
- Provide deworming, and vaccines
Here’s a bit more information about these needs:
Horses in the wild spend most of their day grazing and eating. But humans often ask them to live indoors much of the time or on small lots that don’t provide access to lots of pasture.
On average, your Connemara will eat 1-2% of its body weight daily. Think of it this way; a horse that weighs 1,000 lbs will need 10-20 pounds of feed.
Giving your horse enough land to explore and graze on is ideal, but if you can’t, provide hay several times throughout the day. Depending on how much work your pony does, you may also want to provide grain, vitamins, supplements, and treats.
Grain should be given in small doses, as grass or hay should make up most of your horse’s diet. As some grains have added sugars, it can cause weight gain in your horse and lead to obesity, as well as issues like laminitis.
Supplements come in powder, block, or paste form. Talk with your veterinarian to discuss which supplements are best for your horse.
Another crucial part of the caring routine for Connemara ponies is providing water. Animals and humans need water to survive. Ensure a fresh supply available for your pony 24-hours a day.
Each horse will require different amounts of water, ranging from 5-10 gallons daily. Try to keep the water cool and out of direct sunlight. Cool water is more vital during the summer as you want to encourage your pony to drink often.
A pony that doesn’t drink regularly can not only become dehydrated, but they might colic, as well.
3. Provide Shelter and Protection
Most homesteaders dream of having horses but don’t know much land is necessary for looking after these animals. For Connemara ponies, at least two acres is the minimum if you want your pony to be able to graze full-time.
Of course, the space size will also be determined by other livestock animals living on your property. You should ensure all the animals have the correct space for grazing.
If you are providing hay, you can get away with a much smaller area. A barn with a 12×12-foot stall with access to a run that is about 150 square feet is a good minimum, but you’ll need to be sure to exercise your horse daily. Or a 50×50 pasture with a shelter is fine.
After you’ve decided where your horse will live, you should set up fencing. Some people use four-board fencing, which can hold your horse’s weight and is less likely to break over time. Many people opt for electric fencing, though you must train your pony to respect the wires before you turn them loose.
You will also have to consider a shelter for your horse in winter. A barn stall or three-sided shelter is fine in most areas. Whatever you use, monitor the temperatures and keep the space cozy for your pony during the colder months with hay bedding.
Provide waterproof blanketing during really cold or wet weather.
A shelter is also vital for summer when the temperatures rise. Once again, a three-sided shelter is an excellent option.
Horses are herd animals and they are miserable alone. They need friends, though that doesn’t necessarily mean you need multiple horses. There are many other animals that can make good friends. Our guide has all the details.
Health Problems to Watch For
Overall, Connemara ponies are healthy and don’t suffer too many illnesses. However, there are a few issues to be aware of when looking after these beautiful animals:
- Hoof wall separation
Most of the time, laminitis is caused by overfeeding and inflammation. This disease targets the inside tissue of hoofs. It can be excruciating for your horse, so getting it checked as soon as possible is essential.
Melanomas tend to affect older horses more than younger ponies, but it’s still something to be aware of when caring for these animals. You can spot melanoma quickly as they appear as tiny black dots that progress in size and spread if left untreated.
Hoof wall separation isn’t unique to Connemara ponies. It looks as it sounds; the hoofs become cracked and break apart. This breed of pony more frequently suffers from hoof wall separation due to their ability to carry heavy weight.
If your pony has hoof wall separation, you should minimize the weight load on the cart or stop riding temporarily. This can clear up the problem, though your veterinarian may provide other treatment options if necessary.
Benefits of Connemara Ponies
Connemaras are wonderfully versatile and friendly ponies that make a special addition to your homestead. They are easy to tame and will be eating out of your hand in no time. You can make a friend for life with these animals!
Plus, they are safe to have around children and people of all ages.
Here are some other benefits of Connemara ponies:
- Long life span
- High stamina
- Resistant to harsh weather
- Impressive jumping ability
There are lots of ways to find one of your own. One way is to find your pony through word of mouth. Ask friends, or trainers, or go to a local show and ask around. If you’re new to the horse world, you can research and pick a well-respected seller online.
Make sure to make use of the resources on the Connemara Pony Society page.
If possible, it’s good to meet the horse before bringing them home. That way, you can see how friendly and approachable they are and envision how they will fit into your family.