Dublin RDS ’11 Connemara Performance & In-Hand


With a friesian cow, sheep and a sheep-dog, hens and a goose and even a witch,  yes a witch (at the first fence!) all keeping an eye on events, the Dublin Hunter jumping track, now in its third year, again proved to be an imaginative challenge. First up in Class 71 were 16 young Connemara ponies, all qualified from one of six national qualifiers. These ponies, aged 5 to 7 years old, some relatively inexperienced, all made it around Ian Stark’s daunting course of 13 fences, not even stopping to look at the wicked witch trying to steal a piece of toadstool from the first fence.   see above.  (Click on photos to enlarge).

Gloster Boy with Lydia Dawson

Competitors were marked on jumping skill and also in a ridden phase and in–hand, so conformation, way of going, manners and obedience are all taken into account. French breeder Christine Marés and British event- rider Richard Meade, who were booked to judge all Connemara Classes for the Wednesday and Thursday of the Show, faced a busy two days.  

Their first winner in Class 71 was Lydia Dawson on the 7yr. old Gloster Boy (Laerkens Cascade Dawn-Ridge Sally) another Dublin win for this accomplished pair who had won the Ridden Class for riders under 17 here in 2010.

Bruckless Elmar and Caroline Murtagh

Bruckless Elmar (Linsfort Boy-Bruckless Emer) ridden by Caroline Murtagh, daughter of top flat-racing Johnny Murtagh, was runner-up. Elmar is one of those rare Connemaras nowadays being a small-sized roan pony but with a powerful engine.

Anne Stanley’s Ballymacar (Templebready Fear Bui-Lachstone Bella), a 7yr old ridden by Hannah Wentges was a close third.   

Grey Victory with Emily Higgins

Class 72      for ponies 8 – 15 years started without delay after more questions were asked  for these more mature ponies. Again this was a competitive class fielding 16 competitors. It was Lorli Higgins’ 10yr old grey gelding Grey Victory (Glencarrig Finn-Kilmaley Lady 2nd ), a Champion Ridden Connemara here in 2007, who scooped the glory for rider Emily Higgins whose skill and determination have given this pair many wins over the past few years.    

Lettermuckoo Lad and Lisa Murphy

Another 10 year old, the grey stallion Lettermuckoo Lad (Island Lad-Hilltop Girl) jumped a great round and rode into 2nd place for owner Patsy Fortune and rider Lisa Murphy.     A winner of the younger pony class in 2009, Alison Suffern’s Annagh Storm (Ashfield Festy-Caltra Lass) was ridden by Rachel Suffern into 3rd place. The flatwork,including a 3 second halt, and conformation phases would have lost marks for some Connemaras who had jumped really fluently. Amazingly these competitions with their 3 rider phases and marking systems for each phase ran to their allotted programme time. Hats off to one and all and especially to the riders who prepared their ponies so well for this Championship Final  (more pics. to appear in Gallery)

Connemara Ponies Breeders Championship

In-Hand Connemara ponies

The afternoon was given over to the Connemara In-Hand classes in Ring 1. There were only 2 Classes and first in were the led stallions, with 6 entries in the ring.

Killacloran with Fergal Kavanagh & Christine Mares

Ribbons and trophy went again to last years winner, the 10yr old Killacloran (Moy Hazy Cove-Castle Star) bred by Henry O’Toole and owned by Merryn Huntley Jones from Waterford. This stallion has been a consistent winner both in Ridden and In-hand classes over the past 2 seasons, having most recently taken the stallion class honours at the Midland Breeders Show in Mulligar.  

Coolillaun Cushlawn with Joe Burke

Eamon Burke’s quality Coolillaun Cushlawn a 6yr.old son of the Burke’s own Currachmore Cashel and out of Glencarrig Aisling, brought the second prize back to Galway.  

Mountain Cascade and Jarlath Grogan

In third place was the imposing Mountain Cascade (Laerkens Cascade Dawn-Mountain Lady) bred and owned by the Grogan family of Claremorris in Co. Mayo. Both these stallions are well known on the Western showing circuit where they are invariably in the ribbons.

Connemara Pony Breeders Championship

Finalist Judy Cuddy doing triangle walk with Stoneleigh Magic Lady & foal

Now it was time for the newly introduced Connemara Pony Breeders Championship. The RDS had allocatedf a prize fund of €5,000 for this competition and qualifiers were held at specific Shows in June and July. The RDS, in its stated aim to showcase the Connemara pony says “ The Class is aimed at registered Connemara pony mares who are likely to produce performance ponies and who currently have an athletic foal at foot” The mares score is 40%, based on their perceived ability to produce foals with obvious performance potential, and the foal is 60%. Conformation, type, structure and paces are marked as the pair walk and trot along the three sides of a lined triangular area and the foal is also judged on movement, balance and cadence.   

Glenmore Kellys Owen & Deirdre & Francis O'Reilly

All very worthy aspirations but on the down side this all takes time and it was a long wait for 16 mares and their foals – in fact 2½ hours – before a verdict was reached. Meanwhile the less committed spectators drifted away as the class ran way over time. But apparently Judges get a much better look at the ponies than in an ordinary showing class and that has to be a good thing. Still it would have been nice to have seen some young stock classes as well.  The combination which beat off all the competition was Deirdre and Francis O’Reilly’s Glenmore Kelly’s Owen by Abbeyleix Owen out of Gentian Gold and her quality colt foal by Cuileog Cashel. This 15yr old mare has been a frequent winner for the Co Meath O’Reilly’s and has taken prizes and championships go leor, including winning the Connemara in-Hand Championship at the RDS 2 years ago. 

Lucky Hazel with Sinead and Patrick McGrath, Reserve Brood Mare & foal

 As their Reserve the Judges opted for the much-decorated combination of Sinéad Lusby McGrath’s 13 yr. old Lucky Hazel (Mac Owen-Lucky Anna) and her lovely filly foal by Smokey Idea, whose most recent win was the All Ireland Broodmare Class at the Midland Breeders Show in Mullingar. The drive back home will have been a joyful one for each of these dedicated Connemara pony breeders.
But where, oh where was the Connemara Pony Breeders Association stand on the day which saw wonderful displays of all types of Connemaras ridden and in-hand, but for all those interested in getting information about the Breed or even hoping

O'Reilly Championship smiles

make a purchase, there was, alas, no back-up facility.  No one to offer advice or help out.??

All pics. ©  Niamh’s Weblog

6 thoughts on “Dublin RDS ’11 Connemara Performance & In-Hand

  1. As regards ponies for sale, we have contacts on http://www.nicpba.co.uk, both on the sales page and links to studs etc. My own pony is ready to move on and fulfill his potential – what scuppered him on the day was a swelling on his hock, which lost him his 5th place. It has since nearly gone – and I was looking for a time machine to go back and re-run the class…..good thing I saved The Doctor’s cell phone number ….. Finola.


    1. Good to get your comment, Finola. I have just checked out your northern ireland site again, it is very wide and comprehensive, well worth a visit.


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