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Iceland’s Wild Horses

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As you drive through Connemara, you will not only see sheep roaming the hillsides (more sheep than people) but also herds of wild ponies, usually gray (the proper term for white horses) or dun (buckskin) in color.

Connemara ponies are strong, hardy, companionable, highly intelligent, and surprisingly elegant. Averaging around 13 to 14 hands, they are much sought after for riding and show jumping. They are assumed to be a cross between a native Irish breed and Spanish-bred Arab horses imported in Elizabethan times.

The breed was only recognized in the early 20th century and is now celebrated on the third weekend in August at the Connemara Pony Show in Clifden. The whole town takes on a festive air, with parties long into the night, as breeders and competitors from all over Ireland revel in the annual get-together. The show-jumping competitions are pretty nifty, too.

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