Charismatic, amenable, talented and tough — Connemaras are more popular than ever. To celebrate this week's Connemara cover star Castle Fuchsia, take a look at six of the best from history that we won't forget

The Connemara’s natural habitat is the almost lunar landscape of Ireland’s rugged west coast, but the breed’s origins are somewhat hazy. A legend relates that Spanish horses from the Armada that sank off the coast landed and bred with the indigenous wild ponies. This seems somewhat romantic, but you only have to look at the Connemara to see its quality. This refined beauty has not escaped the aficionados of M&M showing, to which the Connemara’s track record attests.

“The versatility of the breed is key,” says Connemara breeder Vanessa Clark. “People buy Connemaras for a full range of activities. They have excelled in every sphere and plenty of Connemaras are at the top of their game in all sorts of fields.

“They move well, are athletic and are naturally more uphill and lighter in front than some other native breeds, making them a pleasure to ride for the younger generation.”

Here are 6 Connemara’s from history that we won’t forget:

1. Stroller (pictured top)

A 14.2hh part-bred Connemara, Stroller, won an individual showjumping silver medal for Marion Mould in the 1968 Olympics, the only pony to have secured an Olympic medal in the discipline.

2. Rosenaharley Rossleague

Rosenaharley Rossleague remains the only pony ever to win the Olympia ridden mountain and moorland supreme two years running, in 1983 and 1984.

3. Nugget

In 1935, a 20-year-old Connemara named Nugget, standing at just 15hh, cleared a 7ft 2in obstacle at the London International Horse Show.

4. Seldom Seen

Lendon Gray trained a Connemara/thoroughbred called Seldom Seen up to grand prix level in dressage. She later competed another cross-bred called
Last Scene.

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5. Ballyowen Maybelle Molly

In 2009, a Connemara called Ballyowen Maybelle Molly took European showjumping gold.

6. Sillogue Darkie

Sillogue Darkie qualified for the All-Ireland 148cm showjumping championship at Dublin for seven consecutive years — a feat achieved by no other pony — and claimed European silver (2009) and bronze (2007) medals. He was voted Connemara pony of the decade in 2010.

Don’t miss our special native pony issue of Horse & Hound magazine (29 September), where we head to West Lockinge Farm to talk to Henrietta Knight about her Connemara ponies