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Christmas Weekend Report

Christmas Weekend Report

The Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society hosted a Christmas weekend in Ballinasloe last weekend. On Saturday a colt foal and a filly foal class took place in Creagh Equestrian Centre. The colt foal class was won by Woodford Diamond (by Kilmore Diamond) owned by Gayle Farrell and the filly foal class was won by Brian Mullen’s Gurteen Maeve (by I Love You Melody).

Seventy five ponies competed in four showjumping classes with a total prize fund of €1800. Five ponies jumped clear in the 70 -80cms class. The 90cms class was won by Bonnan Buí owned by Liam Diamond and ridden by Shane O’Brien. Tubbervale Gold owned by James Flynn and ridden by Michael Lillis won the 1m class which was generously sponsored by Horse Sport Ireland. Westward Sunshine owned by Mike Corcoran and ridden by Cathal Duffy jumped a fantastic double clear to win the 1.10m competition sponsored by Liam Diamond and Clive Swindell. This was the first ever showjumping competition organised by the CPBS and it was great that despite inclement weather conditions competitors weren’t deterred from travelling.

The Connemara mare Cul Bán Mistress was chosen as the CPBS Performance Pony of the Year. Her owner Clive Swindell was presented with an award at the show where he paraded Cul Bán Mistress. Her sire Silver Shadow was also on display.

On Sunday an educational conference was held in Hayden’s Hotel. Four topics were discussed. Dr. Alan Fahey from UCD presented his findings on in-breeding in the Connemara pony population. It appears in-breeding has remained constant at 4.4%. It is recommended that in-breeding should not go over 6%. Dr. Jack Murphy spoke about a recent report on Classification he prepared for the CPBS. His report can be downloaded from the CPBS website.

Paul Flynn from Weatherbys Ireland presented the findings of a recent study carried out on 230 randomly selected Connemara ponies to identify the prevalence of Hoof Wall Separation Disease within the population. The study revealed that 19.1% of the 230 ponies tested were identified as carriers of the HWSD gene while 1% of the population as affected. Áine O’Callaghan presented a report of Performance ponies in Ireland. She spoke about the different disciplines ponies are competing in and gave an analysis of what levels they are competing at.

The over-riding message from Sunday’s seminar is that breeders must thoroughly research their breeding plans from now on. While the level of inbreeding and the prevalence of the HWSD issue are manageable, progress can only be made when all the relevant information is available.

Breeders must have information on sire and dam in order to improve the health of the herd. Mare owners and stallion owners must know the status of their own animals and the only way to know this is by testing and sharing the results with the relevant parties.

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