The Ashgar Connemara Pony Stud was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1979. At this stage the Connemara Pony was almost unknown in Southern Africa. Patience Worthington had imported Kierin of Leam and was breeding Connemara Ponies in Zimbabwe and Sydney Press imported Clonkeehan Barna Boy (CPS 182) and Abbeyleix Tansey to Coromandel Stud, South Africa. My husband and I purchased a farm in Clarens, Eastern Free State, South Africa and I decided that the hardy and versatile Connemara was the ideal breed for this mountainous, harsh and cold environment.
I was fortunate to purchase Abbeyleix Tansey (CPS 3103) from Sydney Press and Dundrum (800 Vol 18), the stallion from Mrs Patience (Patricia) Worthington. Patience then gave me Kierina and Coromandel Abbeyline (CPS 8118 Vol 18). At last, the Ashgar Stud was ready to start breeding Connemara Ponies in South Africa and in 1981 my family and the four foundation Connemara Ponies of Ashgar Stud moved to our farm in Clarens, South Africa. I have read Pat Lyne’s story “Out of the Mist” and of the adventures of the frst Connemaras on their long trips to their destinations in Southern Africa, of days at sea, for example Kierin of Leam spent two and a half weeks at sea and then four days in the train to Zimbabwe and still sired a foal soon after he arrived in Zimbabwe!
My two stallions Dundrum (CPS 800) and Crockaun Connemara (CPS 674) also known as Croc an Oir “Croc” are no exceptions, Dundrum (CPS 800) spent four days travelling from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg. An hour after his arrival he jumped the fences, set off down the road in rush hour and after an agonising search we found in the neighbours garden demolishing her “Iceberg” roses! Croc on Oir (CPS 674 Vol 16) was leased to the Irish Aid sponsored Basotho Pony Stud each year for their breeding season. He was ridden for two days over the mountains in Lesotho to the Lesotho Trekking Centre at Modimo Nthuse in Lesotho. From there was another climb to our meeting place forty kilometres from Maseru. The third year he was not at our rendezvous. I had no option but to trail the horsebox up the terrifying Blue Mountain Pass in the hopes that he was at Modimo Nthuse. I was with an American friend who, halfway up the pass, said enough hair-pin bends for him – would I mind if he walked! With my heart in my mouth I continued and fortunately Croc on Oir was at Modimo Nthuse. We then had an equally terrifying journey down the pass but Croc was totally unperturbed and arrived happily in Clarens for another breeding season! Croc on Oir sired the Stud’s next generation two stallions, Ashgar Doogary (SASB Vol 31 No.6), Ashgar Donegal (SASB Vol 31 No.3) and the mare Ashgar Karalee (SASB Vol 31 No. 5). He retired happily at the Stud where he died in 1999.
The Connemara Pony Society of Southern Africa was founded in 1985. Loyal Committees throughout the years have worked hard to put the Connemara breed on the map in the Southern African countries and I would like to thank the Society and all who have helped me to establish this wonderful breed in South Africa.
I have sadly given up breeding the Connemara Pony but have done my best to ensure the Ashgar Connemara legacy continues by assisting Zena Penfold of Millsleigh Irish Sport Horse and Pony Stud (also in the Eastern Free State) to establish the SA Connemara Pony Breed Conservation Program with SA bred Ashgar Cruising (the culmination of the Ashgar breeding lines) and her imported stallion from Germany, Rhinestrom’s Mighty Man. We look forward to continuing breeding and to liaising with the Stud, the legacy Ponies’ existing owners and to encourage new breeders to come on board and to continue the promotion of the breed.
The best of luck to all of you and your beautiful Connemara ponies!