Monday, Jun. 3, 2024

She Rides, I Pay: Connemaras

I saw a thread yesterday on the COTH forums entitled “Tell me about Connemaras.” “Mtn trails” has the opportunity to take on and train a 10-year-old completely green Connemara. She asked her fellow COTHers about breed characteristics and personality. Mtn trails, pull up a chair.

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I saw a thread yesterday on the COTH forums entitled “Tell me about Connemaras.” “Mtn trails” has the opportunity to take on and train a 10-year-old completely green Connemara. She asked her fellow COTHers about breed characteristics and personality. Mtn trails, pull up a chair.

Our pony Dara is a Connemara. Her full name is Greenway Erin’s Ardara—you can’t get much more Connemara than that. We bought her more than two years ago, after a pony we were leasing with another family died in a freak accident. When we saw Dara, it was a love match. Two little girls and two moms had broken hearts, and Dara came into our lives to heal us.

The purchase of Dara had my husband and I up in the middle of the night questioning our sanity. When she came home to us, she was…um…really there’s no way to sugarcoat this….WILD. The girls were scared to death of her and oh, how Dara had fun with that. At 13, Dara had more energy than most 3-year-old horses I’ve encountered.

So, Mtn trails, here’s my first nugget for you:

Tidbit #1 Connemaras are smarter than people. So began what we came to call Dara’s “fat lady torture sessions.” Yes, this involved me riding her for a long time. The rule was, you canter around the ring once nicely, and the fat lady will get off and the kid will get on. If you are mean to the kid, the fat lady gets back on. Mtn trails, sometimes this went on for hours.

Tidbit #2: Connemaras have the stamina of ultra-runners. Dara’s devotion to stubbornness rivals a Southern’s reverence for college football.

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Dara began her life with us in a lovely converted cow barn. About a year later we moved her to our current barn, a beautiful facility with enormous box stalls and an indoor arena. This, it was clear to see, was much more to Dara’s liking. She prefers five-star accommodations.

Tidbit #3 Mtn trails, in our experience, Connemaras prefer the princess treatment.

Treats must be plentiful and varied. All the salt licks in the barn, regardless of location, are hers. Other horses should stand back when she passes. When she came home from a summer visit to New Jersey, alone on an-18-wheeler, the driver laid out a red carpet on the ramp for her to walk down. She looked at me, and you could see her think, “That’s right. Here’s someone who knows how to treat me. Tip him, will you woman?”

It is our hope that my daughter (I like to refer to her as “the girl”) will finally get to show Dara this summer, before she outgrows her. For various reasons, they haven’t yet had a real chance to compete together. Dara and the girl have worked incredibly hard to become a team. At times, it’s been so maddening to watch that I’d arrive home wishing for some kind of alcoholic absolution. At other times, I’ve been moved to tears watching them canter around the ring, looking more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. And then there’s the hysterical laughing that the girl and I break into when Dara starts doing her long, dramatic, repetitive yawns.

So Mtn trails, I say go for it. Just be prepared for a bumpy, but fascinating ride.

Elizabeth Howell grew up riding on the hunter/jumper circuit in Massachusetts. Now she is a horse show mom. She holds a day job at The Emily Post Institute and slings horse manure on the weekends.  Her web site is www.sheridesIpay.com

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