The Village Ponies


 

Funeral of Paddy King in 2004 with Village Ponies being led in front of hearse

Funeral of Paddy King in 2004 with Village Ponies being led

 Paddy King of the Village Pony Line   Village Grey photos are by Sophie Felix

Paddy King at Clifden Show
Paddy King at Clifden Show

In Lehid near Ballyconneely, in the early 1940’s, the late Paddy King unknowingly founded a pony dynasty.  The King family had always had a working pony and cart (his brother Christy remembers a small black unregistered mare) on their small farm in this rugged Connemara region with pockets of good grazing land scattered here and there. The Village pony line started when Paddy bought the Heather Bell mare, Lucy Grey (1937), from Val Diamond of nearby Mannin.  Lucy Grey produced Village Swallow (1944) by Clough Rebel.  Swallow won mare classes at Clifden in ‘56 and ’58 and had a Dublin Spring ‘Show win in 1960 and was then sold to England. Paddy never kept more than two mares at a time, but he kept Village Swallow’s daughter, Village Belle .(1956) by Calla Rebel, for 22 years and she produced a line of good ponies – in all 19 foals – whose breeding is found in some of the best ponies of today.   17 of these foals born at Lehid for Paddy. 

Pat Aengus performance pony with Pat Dillon 1981
Pat Aengus performance pony with Gerry Dillon 1981

There is such an extraordinary number of champion ponies in the Village Line of Connemara ponies, both inside Ireland and abroad, that it would take volumes to do justice to all of them.  Breeder and author Lib Petch, who owned the broodmare Village Belle in Belle’s later years, has well documented many of them in Volume 3 of ‘An Capaillín’, published in 2003 by the Breeders Society and available from the Society Office in Clifden.  Pat Aengus (1975) was a gelding son of Belle’s b y Dun Aengus, a top show-jumper and Ridden pony winner of the 1980’s.

Village Grey a daughter of Village Belle
Village Grey a daughter of Village Belle

 

Paddy passed away in 2004 and his brother Christy speaks modestly of him as a ‘quiet man who ‘had some knowledge’ of the ponies’ and the small well-kept family farmhouse still displays rosettes, trophies and RDS Silver Medals won by Paddy’s  beautiful ponies.

Village Grey with foal at Lehid
Village Grey with foal, (now Village Fionn in France) at Lehid

‘Some knowledge’ turned out to be the gift of a very keen eye and perception of what makes a good Connemara pony, if the popularity and show ring successes of the today’s progeny are anything to go by.  

I plan only to touch on some Village ponies, starting with one of Belles’ daughters Village Grey(1976),. by Abbeyleix Owen..  Photographs show her to be a beautiful example of ‘old type’ Connemara mare, with fine head, good limbs, bone and conformation to match. 

  

Village Grey with last foal Village Swan
Village Grey with last foal Village Swan

 

 

 

Village Boy Clifden Reserve Supreme in 1996 with Tommy O Brien
Village Boy Reserve Supreme Champion 2006 with Tommy O Brien
Village Laddid competing in Scotland in 1995
Village Laddie competing in Scotland in 1995
Village Girl at Lehid
Village Girl at Lehid

Village Grey lived all of her 30 years at Lehid and bred 18 foals, including 7 stallion sons, 3 of which remained in Ireland. Among these are stallions Robin Hood (1982), Village Boy (1989) and Village King (1990). The first and last foals were fillies  In 1980 came First Love and her last foal Village Swan by Innellan Kestrel was foaled in 2001 and is with Michael Conneely of Ardbear.   While some went abroad, manyof her progeny stayed in Ireland and have been breeding some very good ponies. Village Prince(1994), Village Fionn (1998)  and Village Laddie (1985) now a performance gelding in Scotland.  Sires used were Skryne Bright Cloud, Murphy Rebel, Mervyn Kingsmill and Boden Park Finnard and Coral Prince.   Among the daughters were First Love1980, Harvest Home1981, both by Skryne Bright Cloud, Village Queen 1984, by Murphy Rebel and Village Girl (1988) by Mervyn Kingsmill.    Village Grey died in 2007 at the age of 32.   

 

******  From Sophie Felix in Normandy, France, comes another Village Pony story.  Village Fionn 1998,  is by Boden Park Finnard X Village Grey)

 “Hi,
I live in France, Normandie, and I bought Village Fionn at 6 months from Paddy King at Lehid;
our beautiful stallion producing very nice foals; I am very proud of him!  He was Supreme Champion in Belgium.
Everybody is wellcome to get some of his news and pictures ( by the way the picture of the head of Village Grey, the one with the foal who is my Fionn, are mine!)
elevagedesvauts@wanadoo.fr
lesvauts.skyrock.com “

Village Fionn with Championship Sash
Village Fionn with Championship Sash

 

He is now

 

Sophie Felix has kindly sent this stunning photo of Fionn. 

 

Sophie also included another photo of Village Boy taken in 1993 with Tommy O’Brien.   

Village Boy with tommy O'Brien in 1993
Village Boy with tommy O'Brien in 1993