First Selection Day for Elite Connemara Pony Sale
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It wasn’t a Pony Show in the conventional sense but in many ways the 23rd of February was a day of new beginnings.
It was the first ever Selection Day, where ridden Connemara ponies could show their paces before an expert panel of assessors, and aspire to be on the selected list for the first ever Elite Sale for Connemara ponies, to be held in Galway on March 28th.
The day saw the opening venture of a recently formed committee, calling itself the Connemara Pony Elite Sales Group, and allied to the Connemara Pony Breeders Society.
The idea was the brainchild of Michael Flanagan of Sligo, Galway’s Robbie Fallon, Keith Murray and others, who got together with a group of like-minded people, and set out to address the unsatisfactory state of the post-boom market for the Native Pony with special emphasis on the Performance Pony market.
From the two Selection Days in Athlone (the 2nd day is Sun 2nd March) the committee expect to have 50 to 60 ponies eligible to go forward, all vetted and X Rayed, to the Elite Sales Venue in Galway. On that day selected ponies and riders will show their paces at Duffy’s Equestrian Centre, Claregalway.
Every pony will be filmed and that evening the Ardilaun Hotel will host the Video Auction. Groups of buyers from at least seven countries are expected to attend and fair bids are expected.
The first Selection Day was also a first for the recently opened Athlone Equestrian Centre, and its vast new sand arena covering two acres was the location for the Working Hunter, Eventing and Cross-country elements of the assessment. In fact the course- building had just been completed 3 days earlier with the construction of the bank-and-water feature. The dedicated and hard working committee deserve great credit.
One thought; It would have been very helpful to have a catalogue available to spectators giving some details on the ponies involved.
Owners could choose to compete their ponies in one or more categories, such as Riding, Show-jumping, Eventing or Working Hunter and the younger the pony the less challenging the tracks were. All those participating were to receive a complimentary DVD of their performance. There are between 10 and 20 young ponies due to compete in the Three Year old Loose Jumping category which will be held on the second Assessment Day next Sunday 3rd March, See www.cpesg.info
The selection team of Ian Fearon, Jack Doyle and Tom Slattery, all seasoned Equestrian producers, performers and judges, put their vast combined experience to work and marked all disciplines and attributes, including athletic ability, conformation, temperament, way of going and type. Ian Fearon, Trainer of the Pony Teams for the European Championships for the past number of years, expressed his own view on the Native pony. “Its strength is that of a pony that can be used for all Riding activities, not just Jumping and Dressage and Eventing, but it can excel in every conceivable equestrian sport and the Connemara temperament is highly prized”. (Additional information can be found in February’s Ireland’s Horse Review)
Lots of old friends turned up and all welcomed this new marketing enterprise.
Some had come from the Clifden Mart Sale on the Saturday, and agreed that the ridden gelding especially is now quite popular at Sales and many of them went abroad.
There is a strong link between Clifden and the CPESG and the Elite Sale in March will be conducted by Connemara Pony Sales, Clifden, in Galway on Fri.28 March, in conjunction with the Connemara Pony Spring Festival in Galway.
Conclusion: This type of Sales enterprise has the potential to galvanise breeders and owners to take the trouble to train and to prepare their young stock to take on a performance role from as early as three or four years of age.
Breeders realise this fact and that was evident from the countrywide entries at Athlone on Sunday when close on 50 ponies were travelled from all over the Island to be assessed. Despite the fact that to qualify for this Elite Sale they have had to go to significant expense for training, schooling, often finding a suitable rider, and having their animals vetted and X rayed in advance of sale. We wish them every success and a worthwhile price for their ponies at the upcoming Sale.