Riding the Connemara Ponies

We could not pass up an opportunity to take this beautiful horses out for a spin. The Connemara Ponies are famous Irish horses that for many years ran wild on the green hills of Ireland. With a strong back and short muscular legs, it’s perfectly suited to the craggy and untamed terrain of the Connemara landscape. Originally, these ponies are of Scandinavian descent, having been brought to Ireland by the Vikings (who arrived in 795AD). Following that, legend has it that when galleons from the infamous Spanish Armada (who were returning home after unsuccessfully attempting to invade England) unexpectedly ran aground off the Galway coast in 1588, the Andalusian horses on board were set loose. Swimming to shore from the wrecks, they gradually began to breed with the Irish ponies running wild in the mountains.

My initial plan was to go for a ride on the beach and as the tide was going to be out quite a bit, we had a chance to ride out to an island off shore. This perfect day was foiled by my mix up. I had confused our pick up time with the tour we had of the Cliffs of Moher and arrived too late for our ride to the ranch. So graciously, the ranch owners arranged to squeeze us in for another ride later in the day. This ride took us through old country roads through the fields of green pastures under cloudy skies. In the distance the sky grew dark and seemed to creep up on us as we rode our ponies past old farmsteads and and abandoned churches, whose ancient stone walls once housed the songs of Irish praise.

We could not outrun the grey and suddenly the skies poured their bounty on us in thick sheets, soaking us through in minutes. But it was a comfortable ride on our steady mounts - Mr. Eastwood and Midnight. The two thick horses with a sure footed knowledge of the road that quickly became a muddy trail traversing the fields ahead.

The ride was beautiful and our guides pointed out the features that were not to be missed, but as the rains had done their job on all of us, I think even our guides were happy to see the end of the trail and we all had thoughts of a hot cuppa and dry clothes.

If you find yourself on the west coast of Ireland and an afternoon that opens up, we would highly recommend a trail ride which you can book for a couple of hours or half a day. We choose Coopers Hill Livery for our riding guides and you will not regret your day on the backs of this ancient breed.

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