After what has been a long wet, cold and in many parts a harsh winter, the competition season is looming ahead in sight and we now have to ensure our Connemara ponies are in tip top shape in order to be able to perform and compete successfully and also to ensure its enjoyable.
Whether it is showing in hand or show jumping, one should always plan ahead what they intend to do or where they intend to go to in order to be ready. If you plan on participating in weekly jumping competitions you will need to brush down the winter cobwebs and ensure your pony is fit and sound and that vaccinations are up to date, shoeing and hoof care are up to date. Diet and de-worming are also very important factors for the season ahead.
An assessment of your ponies fitness will provide an insight into the work ahead, if you have managed to continue with exercise through the dark winter months and they have retained some level of fitness it will be a little less of a shock to the system than if you are just pulling them in from a field and they are sporting a few extra kilos from being turned out with little exercise.
A healthy shiny coat starts with diet, it is important to ensure your pony is getting the right nutrition to ensure they are shining from the inside out. Forage and fresh water are crucial for your pony’s digestive system. Your pony may benefit from a supplement with their feed, of which there are many; a conditioning feed will also help your pony regain condition after the winter months without heating them up too much. Look for what you need and ensure you follow the feeding guidelines so you are not loading your pony unnecessarily which can lead to other problems. If your pony has been rugged over the winter season they may not be as wild and hairy as if they had not been rugged and there may be slightly less grooming needed, though there will still be a certain amount of elbow grease needed to ensure your pony is looking his best.
Fitness should be built up gradually and depending on your pony, his age whether young or old or in his prime, his current fitness level and whether he has had any injuries will all play a factor in how long it takes to be competition ready. A pony that has been kept in exercise over the winter will obviously be fitter than the pony that has had a winter holiday and you should allow for fitness to be built up gradually, so that there are no setbacks caused by pulled muscles or any succeeding injuries. Likewise with a pony returning from injury, lots of slow work so no stress or strain is put on any injured part.
Make a plan / programme and allow your pony as much time as needed to build up fitness depending on what form of discipline he will be competing in. Start your plan with slow work to stretch out your pony’s muscles, ligaments and tendons. Gradually increase the work weekly to build up muscle and endurance. By sticking with a fitness schedule you will know what stage and level of fitness your pony is at, which will help with focus for events and scheduled shows in the season ahead.
Introduce varied exercise and try varying the location, from schooling in the arena, hacking out on beaches, through land, roadwork, uphill, or whatever terrain is available to you, this will keep your pony interested and flex all those different muscles.
It is also important to give your pony a day off, a day spent in the field or an outside area to have a roll around, a run about and some down time can be very beneficial and ensure your pony doesn’t become bored, stays focused and gives him some well deserved rest and relaxation.
As with all things horsey, you should not make any shortcuts when you are getting your pony ready for the season ahead. You will reap what you sow.
I’m a few days later than I anticipated I would be with my annual reflection.
We’ve had a busy year here in Renvyle with everything and hope that as we have just embraced the New Year, that it can be as good and if not better than the previous.
I should really make things easier on myself by doing this monthly as the year is going on, rather than an epic writing spree at the end of the year, not only is it more writing at this time but its harder to remember a lot of the ins and outs of everything, therefore it is merely a reflection so there will be omissions, hopefully not too many errors and please accept my apologies for same and gratitude in advance for you taking the time to read it through.
I also wish to thank those that sent me pictures and videos and all who came to visit us, there are too many to mention, but the few pictures that I have added in here I will credit. To everyone else, thank you.
And also to wish you all a very Happy New Year from all the Diamond Family and all our four legged friends here at Diamonds Equine Renvyle.
If you have never been to the depths of Connemara, you can not imagine how wild it really is, and January is no exception. There are lots of days with little or no sunlight, lots of rain and howling wind and the roaring waves of the Atlantic crashing on the nearby beaches. It can be a bleak month but when the sun comes out there are fewer places that can equal the beauty of Connemara.
Talitha recommenced training alternating between Paul Duffy; former International Showjumper, Showjumping Course Builder and trainer; and Tommy Gibbons Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) Level 2 Coach and Charles Hanley, B.H.S.I.I.
Lots of trips to Turloughmore and Claremorris over the next few months preparing for the Mackey System and improving her technique.
Pony sales started off the year brisk, with many visitors and potential buyers coming to try out ponies. Battling the Connemara elements.
Talitha and Thunder completed a Training Evening with former International Show-jumper and Horse Sport Ireland Level 3 Showjumping Trainer, Jack Doyle, which was held at Galway Equestrian Centre. A very informative and productive evening, Thunder being the only pony at 151cm, in his class among several big 165cm+ horses, yet he was able to fit a required 4 strides between a certain combination jump where the big horses were taking 5, much to Jacks amusement, who was mesmerized that the pony was completing it with ease.
It was many moons ago that I myself had participated in a similar jumping clinic with Jack also, with my mare Penny, now 29 years young, which was held in Claremorris School of Equitation at the time. We had a nice little chat with him afterwards, what a great trainer!
From the Pony Sales in Clifden we welcomed a few new additions to the yard, turnaround was quick for them and they departed along with a full load of Connemara’s on their new adventure to Italy.
Talitha completed her weeks work experience as part of her 5th year in school the Army Equitation School, having visited the Equitation School many times previously including completing some work experience there also in 2016 and of course when her dad, Cmdt Carey was based as O.C. in McKee Barracks it was always a regular as possible visit on our trips East. Officers of the Equitation School often host demonstrations and clinics for various interest groups in the industry. These demonstrations are conducted in order to educate and inform people on breeding,training & coaching. Any day at the Army Equitation School is always a valuable learning experience.
February also saw the departure to the Rainbow Bridge of Lily our German Shepherd of 12 years, she was a beautiful faithful companion who would hear the grass grow, she was always on guard and there was never a vulnerable moment in her presence.
18/03: Another training day this time with Captain Geoff Curran, the senior riding officer at the Army Equitation School in McKee Barracks, Dublin. This training also took place at Galway Equestrian Centre. Talitha of course being no stranger to the Equitation School. Weather permitted for the training to be held outside and it was a very good, educational day, Captain Curran is currently one of the most prominent and successful Army riders on the European Showjumping circuit & the National Grand Prix circuit with all Irish bred horses.
The Jump-cross League was in full swing at Galway Equestrian Centre and we were on the road every weekend to some where. Sometimes both the Saturday and Sunday were consumed with horsey adventures.
Saturday 1st: The Connemara Pony Breeders Society Dinner Dance and Hall of Fame Awards in the Station House Hotel in Clifden, where breeders, young and vintage gathered for a night of appreciation and a select number were added to the Hall of Fame for their contribution to all things Connemara Pony related. We had the pleasure of sitting with some stalwarts, that included breeders John Daly and Frank Quinn and Connemara Pony blogger Niam O’Dochertaigh, all 3 were added to the Hall of Fame, it was a very entertaining evening. MC on the night was Kevin Bolger who must be credited for his hard work and devotion to the breed and the organization of such a great evening.
Under the regular training of Tommy Gibbons in Claremorris, Talitha completed her Mackey Bar 2 exam, which was examined by Horse Sport Ireland Level 2 Coach, Ms Aoife McCabe; such was Talitha’s dedication and commitment she took the exam on the evening of the removal of our beloved Grandmother and Talithas Great-Grandmother, Mrs Annie Diamond; Liam’s mother and wife of the late William J Diamond; who had passed away that week, the assessment was held in Duffy’s Equestrian Centre and she passed and obtained her cert successfully.
01/04: Spring Show in Clifden, Talitha and Ted took home 3 Blue Rosettes, 2nd in the 90s with Rosscon Ted narrowly beaten by 1 second. Thunder also took 2 second places.
A number of ponies left the yard over the winter / spring months, people from all over Europe came to us to source their competition ponies for the season ahead; we are very proud of our reputable and trustworthy reputation for our performance ponies; and we said a fond farewell to some ponies that had been here in training with us, some for as little as a month and others that we had for 3+ years. Ponies went off to begin their new adventures in lots of exciting destinations.
I always love getting the “we have one of your ponies” email or facebook messages that came in very often over the course of 2017. And we love to follow their journey after they leave here, and see how they get on in their new lives. So if you are reading this and have a pony that came from here, please do feel free to send us an update.
30/04: Pieta House Charity Show in Galway, which had a huge turnout and was very well organised for such an amount of competitors. Talitha and Thunder competed in the 1.15m Grand Prix Class class that day.
May: As well as competing all through the Spring in the leagues, there was a number of One Day SJI Shows, here and there, where we traveled to.
14/05: A fantastic finale to the Spring League, Thunder jumped his socks off to take 1st place in the 1m and 3rd place in the 1.10m Horses Classes Finals. This pony has come such a distance in the last 7 months since he was first registered for SJI as many will remember what a crazy pony he was back then.
27/05: The Jump Cross league Final at O’Briens, Talitha and Thunder won both the Midi and the Maxi League Final Classes. Ted also done very well, had one pole down and then flew over the joker fence to subtract the penalties.
Dublin Qualifiers: More early starts, to get anywhere from here in a timely manner and for 9am starts, requires very early starts, a 4am start for the Scarteen qualifier on Saturday 10th June in Co Limerick and not too much later for the Rincoola one the following Saturday the 17th in Co Longford, no joy at either, with 4 ponies qualifying from over 60 entries in each location, and a tough course in both, it was the luck of the draw. We didn’t go to the remaining qualifiers, which were too far away and we were away on holidays for the fourth and final one. Ted did have a super clear round of jumping and earning top marks but his confirmation (or colour) didn’t appeal to some. And Thunder was not in his usual good form. A lottery for guessing who would qualify when there was a number of clear rounds but so few available places. But in the equestrian world one has to take the disappointments with the accomplishments though so onwards and upwards.
Charleville: Another early start for the trip south to County Cork for the 1 st High Performance Qualifier for Clifden. I was on annual leave myself for this in the sunny south west of France, so I missed the excitement of this one. Talitha had stayed behind for a few extra days so Charleville was the destination. Talitha and Thunder won the WH Class Under 153cm and also took the 3rd place position and sealed their place for the High Performance Final in Clifden, which would be held on the Performance Friday, the day after the Annual Show. A long spin to Charleville to compete in a qualifier that would have The Final take place in Clifden, a mere 20 minute drive from us here, but with only one qualifier being held in the West that would be just days before The Final it was our only option.
June also saw the departure for the Rainbow Bridge of one our Trekkers at 29 years of age, Mucky, he had been part of the furniture for a very long time as we had bought him just rising 3. He had a very good and long happy life here despite having nearly died several times over the years, he would find a hole in a concrete floor and somehow manage to end up in it, stuck. He was a fabulous trekker though, bomb proof and carried a vast amount of visitors over the years along the Wild Atlantic Way. He was the first horse to die on us in the yard since 1999.
Training both jumping and flatwork was ongoing for all in the yard, many ponies coming in and going again and others were competing regularly in showjumping and working hunter classes as well as an occassional dressage one. July also saw some long trips to both Slane and Mullingar for summer shows as well as some nearer by. Carrowmanagh Lad was another of our ponies that done well, ridden by Laura McDonagh from The Parks they picked up a Reserve Ridden Championship on their tarvels. Hero Star also ridden by Laura had several double clears in various competitions including a High Performance Qualifier where he was only one of three ponies to go clear out of a large group.
Trekking was steady all summer with lots of visitors coming to trek the Wild Atlantic Way and we also had many groups all over the summer from the local English Language School at Heatherhill Farm.
We welcomed lots of visitors over the summer from all corners of the globe, August was no exception, both our stallions Silver Shadow and Ice and Fire d’Albran were here in Renvyle much to the delight of the many visitors who had made the extra 20 minute journey beyond Clifden to see our fabulous stallions.
We also welcomed lots of large groups, many who were american students who were interested in learning about the Connemara Pony and seeing a working yard in action. The addition of the Wild Atlantic Way scenic route provided an extra flurry of tourists to our area eager to discover our beautiful area, including the Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey & Garden as well as the capital of Connemara; Clifden.
Where weather permitted, Talitha would take either or both stallions out to the arena for some exercise or a short demo, Silver Shadow at 19 years and Ice and Fire d’Albran at 21 years respectively, both could still put any young pony to the test with their stamina and flashy prancing about.
There were also many days visitors would arrive while training was ongoing in the yard who would then get to see some of our performance ponies in action.
It was during the summer months that we also had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Nina Gustafson from Sweden, who became a regular visitor to our yard as she and her husband Anders and their dog jessie were spending some months in Connemara. What a gem of a lady and a fountain of knowledge on Connemara Ponies. She also managed to take some great photographs every time she came to the yard.
17/08: Connemara Pony Show Day
Best Pony Handler 2017 and winner of the William J Diamond Perpetual Memorial Trophy at the Connemara Pony Show sponsored by Diamonds Equine was Michael Harty from Oranmore, judged by Roger Joyce.
18/08: Performance Day in Clifden.
And what was probably one of the wettest days of the summer! The Final of the High Performance Class was held on the Friday, the ponies were in the order as they qualified, so the 3 Charleville qualified contestants were in first, out of the 15 entries, with Talitha and Thunder the 3rd combination to go. The excitement was palpable. Thunder jumped his heart out that day, with the unfortunate fall of one fence, being the second of the double, which we thought upon walking the Charles Hanley built course, that it would come up a bit short for him as he has a big stride, and he did clip it, but there was an option at the end to jump a joker fence, which would then take away the penalties again, comprising of two high 1.10m single rustic pole fences that were not easily seen, he sailed over that no bother to a rapturous and well deserved round of applause.
Again, there was some waiting, some bewilderment, and much anticipation for the results to come in, which had to be totted up, as each jump received individual marks per fence. Thunder and Talitha took 4th place.
I won’t go in to the details about the above (again), as it was with some disappointment that the results were somewhat flawed somewhere along the way with totals not correct among other details. They were without any publication of error or public admission recalculated at a later date in September.
Going forward a more accurate and precise, error proof way needs to be introduced to ensure the continuity of competitors coming to compete in Working Hunter Classes. Otherwise people will not compete where there appears to be a lack of transparency, honesty and integrity. It is also very disheartening to young riders, of which there are many, and more up and coming, to be competing where these matters appear to not be in effect.
Going forward in 2018, we also hope that there will be more qualifiers venues available to us here in the West, to be able to compete in our most local show.
It was with much uncertainty that day whether the puissance would actually go ahead or not, it had rained for hours upon end in the morning, both spectators and competitors were soaked through to the skin and the ground was very soft, it was also well dug up after the high performance final had completed. It wasn’t until the afternoon that the sun temporarily came out, it dried up somewhat and it was confirmed that it would go ahead.
Talitha and Thunder had also taken part also in the 2016 puissance competition coming 2nd so it was with much excitement that they were in the competition once again this year. There were 2 jumps prior to the puissance wall itself, which also had to be cleared.
The Puissance started at 1.22m. The competition started with approx 10 riders, however the exact number escapes me. It quickly rose to 1.32m and 4 ponies and riders cleared that, Thunder and Talitha being one pair of them. The Showgrounds were like a bog at this stage and it was the bravery of our beloved Connemara pony that got them up and over that wall. At 1.42m the four remaining combination of pony and rider in the competition all failed to clear the wall, due to the ground being so soft it was hard work to get them up out of the muck to go over it, so there were 4 joint winners, Talitha and Thunder included, taking home a quarter prize each of the €1000 sponsored prize loot. The puissance had gone a lot higher but because of the conditions of the ground it was hard going for any horse or pony to jump out of it. Or a person to walk through it either!
Overall a great day, a great day for Connemara and the town of Clifden, and a great week, where so many people come from all over the world to view the most amount of Connemara Ponies to be gathered in any one place, no other show anywhere has more Connemara ponies competing between all the classes and competitions held over the course of the week.
I don’t think I held my breath as many times or for as long as I did, as I did on that Friday!
Saturday 19/08: Sales in Clifden; It had been a while since we brought ponies to Clifden, but we had a few for inclusion and bade a fond farewell to a few there that day.
Saw the arrival of a pony from Sweden. We have always sent ponies to Sweden so to bring one from Sweden was a new venture for us. Happy, by Dale Haze and out of a Kimble Mare arrived from Kristina Blad. A 13.2 grey mare who had competed previously at 1.10m in Sweden. We hope next year we can breed with her a nice foal.
03/09: Ballinrobe Agri Show, I managed to get myself stuck in the mud that day with the trailer on arrival, but was rescued very promptly, the day improved as Talitha and Thunder won the Lyndon and Fiona McGrath Perpetual Trophy and we had a number of rosettes also coming home.
Over in Sweden one of our former ponies who had departed earlier in the year; Menlo Flyer and Lisa Stahl won the Varnamo DM Regional Championship 1.10m Final which was lovely to see. Another pony that is going very well in Sweden is Maumturk Boy aka Oliver with Emilia Orest and one we had previously sent to Sweden; Prince of All Champions went on to Denmark after his rider Rebecca Paulsson had finished in ponies so we were delighted to see his progress also with new rider Fie Gajhede.
We also registered a number of ponies for SJI at the end of September.
Ted started his SJI career with young rider Oisin Dillon in Galway on 1st October in Milchem and quickly went from O to almost 60, clocking up the points in a matter of weeks, which saw him competing in 21 various competitions around the west and up as far as Cavan, a great start to his very first registration where he only had 2 poles down out of all those classes.
Hero also started his SJI career with another young rider Jarlath Lee in Galway which also saw them clocking up the points and with similar number of competitions that brought them to various locations and down as far as Millstreet.
We alternated many of the ponies from the yard each week bringing them to the SJI shows, those not registered jumped on a temp ticket and also as Talitha is over 16, shes unable to compete them in ponies but it gave them great experience. Ted, Ollie, Cru, Hero and some more in between all jumped very well throughout the Leagues.
12/11: The Final of the Winter League took place in Galway Equestrian Centre. Unfortunately I was unable to make it as I was away in NYC at the time, but I was told it was a highly exciting day, Thunder and Talitha won both the 1m and 1.10m horses classes.
We hadn’t qualified for the Autumn League Final at Duffy’s though we did attend several days and clocking up some points along the way. I’m sure all there saw a vast improvement in the crazy Connemara wouldn’t go down the shoot to the arena without kicking up a fuss when he started out his SJI career there.
A new league started at Ower Equestrian Centre, a newly built big Indoor Arena, this side of Galway City, the nearest competition venue to us for jumping, we had been there during the summer at their summer show, possibly in August, the date escapes me. It was great to be at the destination, compete and be home again in a more timely manner than what we had become accustomed to over the year, given that one could get caught in traffic in the city adding on another hour to travel. So a weekly trip to Ower was most welcome for their winter league.
11/12: An Intro to Coaching course took place in Claremorris Equestrian (Hanleys) which I was signed up for, it had been many, many moons ago that I had done BHS training towards AI and I felt that it would be a nice refresher course for me. And beneficial also for me to help Talitha in future. It was the coldest morning of the year and there was heavy snowfall so it was a long slow drive over for the 9am start. A very educational and informative day which was given by Ian Fearon Level 3 Show Jumping Coach and former Team Ireland Pony Showjumping Manager and another coach, Alistair; who unfortunately his surname escapes me right now.
12/12: The CPBS Christmas Show took place in Creagh Equestrian Centre, a good spin from Connemara, when we get to Ballinasloe where Creagh is located, were half way to Dublin, were also still in Co Galway! So an early start for us that morning, we had only Thunder departing from Renvyle, Hero and Ted were already in Galway, both had been competing on the SJI circuit for the previous few weeks, so we took up the very kind offer from Heatherhill Farm who were also going East to hitch a lift with them, so we dropped Thunder up at the crack of dawn on a very cold frosty morning for departure.
A great day out despite the freezing cold weather and we brought home a number of rosettes that day, Talitha and Thunder had Double Clear in the 1m, 3rd in the 1.10m and narrowly beaten to 2nd place in the speed round in a time of 57.8 seconds in a 1m with the winner taking 1st at 57.4 seconds in an 80cm mixed speed round. Ted and Hero had 2 double clear rounds. Well done to Sean Carey and Family for a well organised Christmas show.
17/12: Winter League at Ower Final:
As mentioned previously this is a new indoor facility that is now the nearest regular competition venue to us (excluding Clifden) and we were delighted to sponsor a jump at the venue. A very impressive jump with both of our stallions pictured on it.
On the final competition of 2017, Sunday 17th December, Thunder sustained an injury from a freak accident, he snipped the artery below the pastern on his right hind leg, he continued jumping the final 3 fences, and won the competition and it was only when he stopped that the bleeding started. And it bled. Luckily I’m not squeamish when it came to blood and we were after some time able to stem the bleeding, several people (Thank You!) came to my aid to help, giving me cotton wool pads and bandages of all sorts to wrap it, our super vet Dr Philip McManus came from Galway through manic Christmas shopping traffic and tended to him thereafter, he was taken to Rockmount Clinic in Galway the following day were he spent 15 nights recuperating, having had to be sedated, sutured and put in hard plaster cast, before coming home to continue his recuperation in the midst of Storm Eleanor on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.
Those first few nights were some of the most nerve wracking nights I encountered for a long time wondering if the blood loss, the shock, or both would kill him, and if he would pull through the ordeal! Looking out the window today at his happy little head looking over at me, (I’m sure he’s beckoning at me to bring him some goodies!) . . .I’m glad he is of such strength and stamina as the Connemara breed are renowned for. The wound is healing well, though hes minus his feathers on one leg and then had grazing from the cast that is still healing after 2 weeks in cast so hes currently getting a good rest and we are hoping he will make a great comeback in the near future.
Prior to Christmas it was my utmost pleasure to meet Mrs Brooks of Errislannon Riding Centre, I was invited to meet with her at Errislannon Manor, for a project that I am currently working on, some people will know what I am talking about, hopefully I will be able to reveal all to everyone else very soon.
Mrs Brooks, now a nonagenarian, was one of many great equestrian people I had the great pleasure of meeting with over the course of 2017.
And one of many that I had the pleasure of corresponding with, thank you to all who did send me correspondence.
Despite Errislannon only being a short drive on the other side of Clifden, I had never ventured as far as there. We were joined by her daughter Siobhan and we had a lovely chat, reminisced and mused over people and ponies some who were now gone and some that had left hoof prints in her heart. It was an absolute privilege to meet with a lady of such experience and knowledge.
Our two Stallions; Silver Shadow and Ice and Fire d’Albran, had an immensely busy season, through the services of AI through Rockmount Equine and AI Clinic and the very experienced and highly dedicated Equine Veterinary Surgeon and joint owner of Silver Shadow; Philip McManus, M.V.B., M.R.C.V.S. thus giving breeders the opportunity of availing of two of the top bloodlines in the Connemara performance industry. Their own record and now their progeny are providing proof that performance breeds performance. March 2017 saw 4 Silver Shadow ponies competing in the 1.10m class of the CWD Pony Spring Tour in Galway and another (Cul Ban Mistress) in the 1.30m class. We have all seen the phenomenal success of Cul Ban Mistress over the last few years with 2017 being no exception, which saw them taking home a European Gold Team medal and an individual Silver. In almost every major competition there has been a Silver Shadow pony in the rankings somewhere.
Pony Exports were also very busy this year with many people coming to visit our Connemara Performance Ponies here in Renvyle and also many more having purchased directly having viewed pictures and videos through our website and Facebook page, many ponies left here in 2017, with consignments travelling off all over Europe to new homes and even more new destinations being added to the map. We bade a fond farewell to many of our beloved Connies this year, having found fantastic new homes for all of them.
Overall its been a great year in our equine centre, the ponies here are all healthy and happy, despite the Irish weather trying to continually take us out with one wind and rain storm after another, muck to our ankles and sometimes our knees while trying to maintain ones balance while out feeding the ponies, so we can make sure the hay doesnt get wet or dirty, very little sunlight, disappearing rugs that take off with the storms, as 99% of the time the ponies are out, including Ice and Fire who is a very sociable pony with the geldings and loves being out in the Connemara wilds. . . . and did I mention the rain? I know that looking at all these furry creatures now with their winter coats, that in another few months they will all be shiny jumping machines, ready for competition, groomed and trained to perfection, loving what they do, and of course eating their weight in food. But as they say “if you want to become a millionaire with horses, you start off being a billionaire!”.
On a final note, we would like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone of you a fantastic year ahead in 2018, we hope that you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy year ahead and we look forward to meeting and greeting you in the year ahead, be it through sales, purchases, competing, trekking, visiting or through the use of our Stallions in the Connemara breeding industry.
We would also like to thank all our customers, visitors, staff, family members and friends (who are part and parcel of it all including the non horsey ones) and all the contributors to our equine business.
Much thanks also to all at Rockmount Veterinary Clinic for the top class care given to Thunder.
And please accept my apologies, if I have left anyone out or ommitted relevant details or made errors.
Finally, I do hope to add to theconnemarapony blog here a little more often in 2018 so if you feel like a bit of reading, keep an eye on the page for any updates. And feel free to leave me a comment also. 🙂
Please also feel free to contact us at any stage if your in the market for a Connemara Performance Pony and we will do our very best to assist you in your search as we have an Elite selection in training at all times here in Renvyle.
On behalf of The Diamond Family Renvyle – Priscilla Diamond.
As 2016 draws to a close and we welcome a new year in, we reflect on the year that was.
January: the end of January saw the much anticipated arrival of Ice and Fire d’Albran and the start of a very exciting year for us and for Breeders throughout Ireland …. This almost 20 year old French bred Stallion, bred by Emmanuelle de Monleon of the Albran Stud and sired by Dexter Leam Pondi (French Supreme Champion, having competed in 6 European Championships) ….. and whose dam is Underline of Laps, (French Reserve Champion) needs very little introduction;
A Grade A Showjumper having competed at the top for 10 years in many international Grand Prix at 1.30-1.35m and competed on the Nations Cup for French, Swedish and Norwegian Pony Teams. He was Pre selected for the European Championships and won an individual Silver Medal for the Nordic Championship.
This Stallion has it all; Endurance, Stamina, Charisma, superb confirmation, fantastic jumping ability and a temperament and looks to match, an absolute gentleman in the stable, this stallion melts hearts.
Ice and Fire d’Albran is now available for AI along with our other Grade A Stallion “Silver Shadow” through the expertise of Philip McManus at Rockmount AI Centre.
Monday 1st Feb-
One of the biggest social media search parties for an animal was launched when Silver Shadow our 18 year old Grade A Retired Showjumper Stallion, disappeared from his stable on Sunday 31/01/16, … Facebook kicked into action with the post on the Silver Shadow Facebook page being viewed & shared thousands upon thousands of times, with local search parties and An Garda Siochana all involved; the Irish Field newspaper among several literary means picking up on the search, Silver was located a few hours later not too far from where he had been stabled, in an unused building and was found to be safe and sound and returned back to Rockmount AI Centre.
Silver Shadow remains one of the most sought after bloodlines throughout Ireland and Europe, many of his progeny are now competing at Grand Prix level, all over Europe. Several of his progeny competed at top level throughout 2016, with one on each of the British (Lisnadrisha Tic Tac) and Irish (Black Shadow) pony showjumping teams at the RDS Dublin Horse Show.
Cul Ban Mistress, an 8 yr old mare by Silver Shadow also made a great comeback with new rider Kate Derwin onboard.(see more on Mistress below)
Doon Laddie a 12 yr old gelding by Silver Shadow bred by John Luskin and who had been on the Irish Showjumping team went to Denmark having been selected as part of the Danish Team at the Pony European Championships in Aarhus, Vilhelmsborg, Denmark And obtained a 1st place win with new rider Christine Thirup Christensen (DEN)/Doon Laddie 0/0 in a time of 38.79 in August.
We are very proud to have purchased and brought Silver Shadow back in 2014 from the Kolgjini family in Sweden after him previously competing for years in Ireland, Italy then Sweden at the top level.
He is also a great grandson of Kimble, who William Diamond exported to Sweden in the 1970s and he competed at jumping while also standing at Stud there also.
The end of February saw an AI demonstration take place at Rockmount AI centre with both Stallions present, where Vet Philip McManus gave an insightful demo with Ice and Fire d’Albran and the dummy, and an interesting lecture followed on breeding. A large crowd were in attendance on the crisp Spring day, which proved to be a very worthwhile excursion for all. Many had also come to view Ice and Fire who had also just arrived into Rockmount.
We attended the spring show in Clifden, with no less than 8 ponies in tow, bringing home a few ribbons along the way, it was also Talitha’s first official outing again competing after sustaining a broken leg in early July 2015, after her horse fell on her, leaving her in crutches well into January of 2016. It was great to see her back in action and back on her horse.
Sales in Clifden again attracted many overseas visitors and many chose to come the extra 20 mins to visit us out the road. Sales were busy this month also for us as many would be getting ready for the summer season ahead at this time.Many familiar faces departed and a few new ones arrived into the yard.
We especially enjoyed a visit from Frank Hill of the Derrinal Estate in Victoria, Australia who has some direct descendants of a pony exported many moons ago by my grandfather William Diamond (He exported the mare, Four of Diamonds) and Sophie Soulez Larivière (from Killola Stud in France) who we are proud to say is a fantastic ambassador for the Connemara Pony, her knowledge and experience on the bloodlines is what can only be described as second to none. We took great pleasure in bringing her on a trek along the Wild Atlantic Way, trekking through the waves of the nearby Tra Na mBan beach and up the hill overlooking the village of Tully, onboard a 154cm Connie called Westonhouse Fionn.
Louisburgh Show: we brought JJ and Thunder to this show where they jumped on a temporary ticket, as the crow flies Louisburgh is directly across the bay from us in Renvyle, however we had to wind the Connemara loop roads around the Killary Fjord which was also our first solo mom and daughter excursion outside of Renvyle with the horsebox.
The Charleville Agri show also took place in June where Cool ri Cashel (Joey) and Jessica Lee competed to take first place to secure their place in the High Performance Final at the CPBS show in Aug. Their score sheet consisted of very impressive high marks on all fronts.
I must add in that I slipped in a family visit to Centre Equestre de Bellenue in the Vendee region while holidaying in France, their hospitality, kindness and generosity was exceptional, they had 2 connemara mares there, Jennys Silver Moonlight whose Grandsire is Silver Shadow and Doirin Glas Princess, whose bloodlines are also Cloonisle Cashel/Abbeyleix Owen / Kimble.
The Ballyconneely Performance Show held on Saturday 16/07, saw Talitha regain her title for the WH rider under 16 with JJ, (Bunaun Bui) Talitha had won this competition in 2014 and 2013 having missed out on it in 2015 due to being injured and out of action for the second half of the entire year.
Summer: trekking was very popular with visitors of all ages to Connemara, many choosing to trek the Wild Atlantic Way on horseback to see the unspoilt beauty of our local beaches and mountains.
Treks were daily and catered for all levels of ability from the novice to the accomplished rider.The lovely Irene all the way from outside of Barcelona and Sam from England took great care of all our visitors throughout the summer.
The local Connemara language school ran by Carmel Walsh and Ron Curran also intertwined horse riding as part of their extracurricular activities for their students which was a very popular choice. Their daughter Catriona went on to have great success at the Dublin Horse Show with her performance Connie, with fabulous results.
Silver Shadow and Ice and Fire d’Albran were both in Renvyle where many breeders from all over Europe and as far as Australia took the opportunity to visit them, while on their trip to Connemara. Where weather permitted Talitha gave short riding demos in the sand arena to showcase the fabulous characteristics of both our Grade A stallions to the many visitors who came from the world over for the Annual Connemara Pony Show. It was also lovely to put faces to names to the many people we are now connected with via social media and interact with through our facebook page @DiamondsEquineRenvyle
Clifden High Performance
14th August: just days prior to the annual show day at the last qualifiers in the Parks Moycullen our fabulous dun gelding Menlo Flyer and Angelique Wittebrood qualified for the Final at clifden adding a little more excitement to the mix and joining our
Cool ri Cashel (Joey) & Jessica Lee who had already qualified when they took 1st place at the Charlevile Agri Show in Cork, in June
CPBS SHOW DAY
The annual WJ Diamond Perpetual Cup for best overall pony handler was awarded to Kevin Mullen for 2016, this very deserving young man carries on a great tradition of connemara ponies right down through his family.
Friday Performance day 19/08
The day started somewhat anxiously when a certain pony refused to be loaded into the trailer meaning an earlier departure with the truck, however he (Thunder) regained some brownie points in the morning when he took 4th place in The U16 WH class with Talitha.
Joey and Menlo both competed well in the High Performance Final.
The highlight of the Performance Day was the Puissance, which we hadn’t decided fully on entering into until the day, until that afternoon …. there were approx 10 competitors, the wall started at 1.12, moving upwards to 1.27, 1.37 and 4 competitors competed at 1.47
Talitha and Thunder came a joint 2nd place having just clipped the top layer of the wall at 1.47m, a great day of excitement and a great comeback given she had been watching last year while in cast and on crutches. Yet some more brownie points were earned by Thunder.
As part of the week long festivities there was Interprovincial Team Showjumping on the Saturday, we were honoured for Talitha and Thunder to be selected for and chosen as Captain of the Connacht Gold Interprovincial Showjumping Team, by Chef d’Equipe Sean Carey, Completing her 1.10m Round with a Double Clear.
We attended the Ballinrobe Show
and what a great day Great day we had in Ballinrobe….
Talitha and Thunder had a Double Clear in the 1m and Joint first place win in the 1.10m class.
The end of September; The newest and somewhat at first unexpected arrival of our Trekker – Sally’s foal – Lucy, proved to be of much excitement for us all, never had we sprang from the bed as early as when we heard that she had made her debut into the world. Sally was bought as a Trekker at the end of 2015, and was not known to be in foal at the time but given that she started putting on lots of weight it was soon realised that she was in fact in foal which was great excitement.
The end of the month saw one of the last measuring in’s for 2016, We availed of this opportunity to bring Thunder to Claremorris to get measured in for SJI, prior to this he hadn’t ever been measured, and we’d been jumping on temp SJI tickets, we also took the opportunity to avail of some jumping lessons with Charles Hanley, (Course Builder/Instructor) and dad to International Showjumper Cormac Hanley, (and hailing from a family of Int Showjumpers) which Talitha thoroughly enjoyed. Thunder measured in at over the height (even though he’s still smaller than a handful of Connies that I could name that have measured in as ponies) but as Talitha had turned 16 during summer there was no point in him being measured as a pony as she was in her final year for ponies, so measured in as a horse he was.
We Started the Duffys Autumn league With a Shaky start to the first day where he managed to not get any clear round despite being able to jump like a kangaroo when he wants.
We attended the league weekly for the next 8-9 weeks competing in the horses classes where he qualified for the 1m and 1.10m class final and accumulated some very hard earned points along the way.
The final on November 19th saw 1 fence down for the pair in the 1m class, we had brought Menlo Flyer and Bunaun Bui (JJ) fresh in from the field during the week, along also for a jump around, JJ with Shane OBrien onboard had the only double clear round in the 1m class but they hadn’t qualified for the final so it was just for fun.
Talitha and Thunder had a Double clear in the 1.10 but were very narrowly beaten to the finish by a time of less than 3 seconds to take 2nd place, her time was 45.25 seconds and the winner was “Albano Iroko” a 165cm horse in a time of 42.50 seconds, a great achievement for our Connie, Thunder, measuring in at a much smaller but still impressive and capable 151cm.
The weekly trips to Duffys also saw the opportunity to avail of some training with Paul Duffy, (Showjumper, course builder and instructor) and dad to Michael Duffy the international Showjumper and youngest Irish national Champion who competed with Silver Shadow in SJI from March 2007-October 2008 before Silver departed for overseas.
The Autumn training with both Charles Hanley and Paul Duffy proved to be of great benefit in the long run, both trainers coming from massive horsey family backgrounds. I recall one of the things that she liked about both of them was the fact that neither of them at any stage, didn’t tell her to “try riding a different horse”, that they showed her how to ride the one she was on, how to correct what she was doing in error and how to instil the trust, belief and faith in her beloved and sometimes crazy horse Thunder, which in turn gave her back a lot of the confidence that had been dented in her riding accident in 2015, and for this we were very grateful for. October :
Attended the Sales in Clifden, some new arrivals to the yard incl a very hot blooded Peekaboo Shadow a 2016 Silver Shadow filly foal, whose Dam is out of Commanding Hero. This foal is also available for Sale.
October was also the month for HOYS in the UK.
Wildwood Silver out of Silver Shadow who Breege Diamond trained here in Renvyle in the autumn of 2008, with Szonja, one of the girls who worked here annually, and who was owned by Raymond Conneely at the time before he went to the UK, and who had previously won at HOYS in 2013, competed again at the very popular Horse of The Year show in Birmingham.
– Wildwood Silver & Rider Joe Fernyhough Took part in the Squibb Group Pony Foxhunter Championship. Wildwood Silver is a 10yr old Grey Gelding, Silver Shadow X Wildwood Rose
and now owned by Lynne Barker. Joe’s father Rowland was on the GB Olympic team in 1976.
Also competing was
– Tobar King –
Another one of Our fabulous ponies from yesteryear with Sandy McLean who was up to contend the Pony Showjumper of the Year
Tobar King (2007) a 9 yr old gelding
Gunner Mason X Bláíthin
The Dam, Bláíthin was bred here in Renvyle by Liam Diamond, the Dam’s sire was Coral Prince.
We learnt that the first French bred connemara pony Stallion was exported to Australia, and he happened to be a son of Our stallion “Ice and Fire d’Albran”, …… Black Swan de Vuzit, a 5 yr old stallion owned by Sophie Soulez Larivière who I mentioned above, made the long journey which incurred time and expense to the Derrinal Estate of Frank Hill which was great excitement to learn, it is also a fabulous opportunity for the Australian Breeders to have him there. We wish them every success for the breeding future. December:
The CPBS Christmas Show:
Creagh Equestrian centre on Sat 10th December.
We set off on an early adventure for the Ballinasloe venue with 3 Connies, JJ, Menlo and Thunder. Despite being halfway to Dublin when we reached Ballinasloe, we were still in Co Galway, but the long trip was well worth the journey.
An ecstatic Shane O’Brien (who had only returned from America a few weeks prior) on Menlo Flyer had the only clear round in the €800 pot in the 110cm class, taking the “Silver Shadow and Cul Ban Mistress Cup” and setting the atmosphere wild with excitement.
The class; the 1.10m Champion was kindly sponsored by Clive Swindell owner of Cul Ban Mistress and Liam Diamond owner of Silver Shadow and was the highlight of the Day.
Talitha And Thunder had a double clear, in the earlier 1m class, 1 of only 7 in the competition with double clears, which had a good quantity of competitors also vying for the prize loot.
Cul Ban mistress, as mentioned above, daughter of Silver Shadow and owned by Clive Swindell, was in attendance to give a Showjumping Demo with new rider Kate Derwin, after the showjumping classes had finished.
Our Facebook competition which had been running over a number of months for a Free Covering with either Silver Shadow or Ice and Fire was won by an ecstatic Michael Flanagan from Sligo, the draw was done Live on our Facebook page on December 16th..
We didn’t manage to make it to the CPBS show in Hanleys in Claremorris on Dec 27th, between everything going on around the Christmas, however we did sponsor the 1m JumpCross Class which was won by Jane Fields and Venus.
Just to mention – Another One of our Former ponies
MaumTurk Boy, aka Oliver (by MaumTurk Oliver) had a very successful year with 15 year old Emilia Orest in Sweden having A brilliant season with 33 starts and wining 22 placements, its been great following their progress, and they finished the year in fine style by winning the Agria pony trophy and taking the gold medal of the district championships.
Our two Stallions; Silver Shadow and Ice and Fire d’Albran, had an immensely busy season, through the services of AI through Rockmount AI centre and the very experienced and highly dedicated Equine Veterinary Surgeon and joint owner of Silver Shadow; Philip McManus, giving breeders the opportunity of availing of two of the top bloodlines in the performance industry. Their own record and now their progeny are providing proof that performance breeds performance.
Pony Exports were also very busy this year with many people coming to visit our Connemara Performance Ponies here in Renvyle and also many having purchased directly having viewed pictures and videos through our website and Facebook page, many ponies left here in 2016, with consignments having travelled all over Europe to new homes and even more new destinations being added to the map. We bade a fond farewell to many of our beloved Connies this year, having found fantastic new homes for all of them.
Try before you buy also proved to be very popular with potential buyers, this allowed prospective buyers the opportunity to try out a number of ponies here on site in Renvyle, giving them a feel for what they liked and a more certain ability for choosing their perfect Connie.
Whilst overall 2016 was a great year for our Connemara Performance Ponies you have to take the ups and the downs and December also seen the first for a long, long time of a departure for the Rainbow Bridge of one of our beloved Connies, Killy – Killegar Fear Beag, a 7 year old gelding out of Monaghanstown Fionn, whom we had exported in 2016 overseas.
It was with much sadness we learnt of his very sudden and untimely passing, as each and everyone of our Connies having passed through here, and some stay longer than others, all have been trained continuously to a very high standard, and having been brought to many shows while here, all are handled extensively, cared for and always treated in the highest regards. We can safely say that Every single Connie that has passed through our yard and stables leave their hoof prints in our hearts.
On a last note, we would like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone of you a fantastic year ahead in 2017, we hope that you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy year ahead and we look forward to meeting and greeting you in the year ahead be it through sales, purchases, competing, trekking or through the use of our stallions in the Connemara breeding industry.
Please also feel free to contact us at any stage if your in the market for a Connemara Performance Pony and we will do our very best to assist you in your search as we have an Elite selection in training at all times here in Renvyle.
PS: If you have managed to read through all this, I first of all would like to thank you for your time, I would be delighted if you would leave a small comment even just the country you are from or where you are reading this, as when I started writing this last night on 30/12/2016, I didn’t think it was going to turn into a book and apparently no one will read it 🙂
I might also add that I apologise in advance if I have made any errors, omissions, mistakes or inaccuracies.