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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Connemaras finding their way back into the spotlight

ABOVE: Leara Keysers of Keysla Connemaras with Sugargum Venus.

THOSE of us old enough to remember Fred Wiltshire think of him with a smile. A larger-than-life, boisterous and strong-minded Irish veterinarian, he was a go-getter and apart from his drive in creating the Lancefield Horse Festival, one of the biggest shows of its time, and having a hand in the creation of the Barastoc Horse Of the Year Show, his great love of the

Pony is what we remember most.

In 1963, Dr Wiltshire imported the Connemara Pony stallion Island King.

He set about promoting the breed, not just as a purebred, but for cross-breeding as performance horses. The likes of Margaret (M) Kelly, Ann Paterson and Zita Denholm followed, providing a strong basis for one of the world’s great performance ponies.

The first purebred Connemara foal born in Australia was Connemara Park Kenneth, 1966, and with him the first Australian Connemara Stud Prefix.

Dr Wiltshire hoped to add movement, bone and scope to this breed and Island King was in fact registered as an Australian Pony Stallion.

He was very successful, but promotion of the ponies lapsed after he was killed in a tractor accident at his Lancefield property in the late 1970s.

Now, thankfully, with performance pony breeding for dressage and jumping, there is a revised interest in these beautiful ponies.

The inaugural Connemara Pony Gala Day was held at Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre on October 23 and it’s hoped that this will be the first of many showcases.

It was run by Leara Keysers in conjunction with the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society of Australia and attracted 44 entrants from as far away as Lake Cargelligo in NSW.

The ponies competed in in-hand showing classes, saddle classes, event pony challenges and handy mount.

ABOVE: Janene Leslie’s Sugargum Richenda was champion purebred female.

Winners in the purebred in-hand classes

Stallion four years and over: Clairvale Connstellation

Colt, two and three years; Dylanglen Laoch

Colt, yearling; Marglyn Zephyr

Champion Led Purebred Stallion or Colt; Clairvale Constellation

Reserve Champion Led Purebred Stallion or Colt: Marglyn Zephyr

Broodmare: Celtic Miss O’Hara

Foal: Keysla Orpheus

Mare four years and over: Sugargum Richenda

Filly, two and three years: Garnet Cadence

Champion Led Purebred Female: Sugargum Richenda

Reserve Champion Led Purebred Female: Sugargum Purple Rain

Gelding, four years and over: Sugargum Sirocco

Gelding three years and under: Keysla Orpheus

Champion Led Purebred Gelding: Sugargum Sirocco

Reserve Champion Led Purebred Gelding: Keysla Orpheus

Junior Champion Led Purebred: Dylanglen Loach

Reserve Junior Champion Led Purebred: Garnet Cadence

Supreme Champion Led Connemara: Sugargum Richenda

Owners Pair, Sugargum Sirocco and Sugargum Richenda

Sire or dams progeny, Sugargum Sirocco and Sugargum Richenda

Led Partbred Stallion or Colt, Marglyn Chancellor

Led Partbred Gelding: Kiandre Legacy

Led Partbred Mare or Filly: Kahean Galaxy

Champion Led Partbred : Kahean Galaxy

Reserve Champion Led Partbred: Kiandre Legacy

Winners saddle classes

Ridden Purebred Stallion: Exmoor Orion

Ridden Purebred Mare: Sugargum Richenda

Ridden Purebred Gelding: Sugargum Sirocco

Champion Ridden Purebred: Sugargum Sirocco

Reserve Champion Ridden Purebred: Sugargum Richenda

Ridden Partbred Stallion or Gelding: Levale East Wind

Ridden Partbred Mare: Clover First Kiss

Champion Ridden Partbred: LeVale East Wind

Reserve Champion Ridden Partbred: Asham Punch

Ridden Pair of Ponies: Sugargum Sirocco/Sugargum Richenda

Ridden Pleasure Mount: Sugargum Sirocco

Ridden Pony to be ridden by child 14 yrsand under: Monahan Vagabond

Lead rein Pony: Greenlich Rebecca

Winners event pony challenge

Green As Grass Poles: Greenlich Rebecca ridden by Lydia Bouwman

Beginners Crossrails : Sugargum Richenda ridden by Corrine McAuley

45cm: Dun Manus Sean ridden by Kate Tiernan

65cm: LeVale East Wind ridden by Neva Brunning

80cm: Monahan Vagabond ridden by Abbey Fosnaugh

95cm: Asham Punch ridden by Hailey Dawson

Winner handy mount: Sugargum Sirocco

Highpoint champion: Sugargum Richenda

Highpoint reserve champion: Sugargum Sirocco.


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