The Connemara Pony Breeders' Society has welcomed the funding of €5,000 from Horse Sport Ireland towards running a Performance Mare Championship during the two-day show in August.
The inaugural class is being introduced to give owners an incentive to produce their mares for a performance competition and encourage the promotion of them as performance animals.
The competition aims to promote and provide an outlet for four-year-old mares likely to make high-class show jumpers or eventers and to identify performance mares at a young age that may be suitable for the broodmare herd.
Fifteen four-year-old mares will qualify for a final to take place on Wednesday, August 19 during the Annual Connemara Pony Festival.
The mares will be assessed on their jumping ability, conformation and temperament.
A large international audience travel to Clifden for the festival and it is anticipated that this competition will increase the export value of these mares.
This is a unique competition as it focuses on the ease of handling the pony as well as the pony's jumping ability and is the first competition of its kind for Connemara ponies.
Following the competition a special slot will be allocated at the Connemara Pony Sales on Saturday, August 22 for mares that competed at the final with the goal of increasing export value.
Meanwhile, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring attended a meeting of the Council of the Connemara Pony Breeders Society last week to discuss plans with a view to celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the Swedish and Danish Connemara studbooks and efforts to attract more Scandinavian tourists to Ireland this year for the Connemara Pony Festival.
Minister Ring also welcomed the recommendation on the promotion of equine tourism in the Industry Strategy and he encouraged all equine tourism operators to avail of the digital marketing platform of Tourism Ireland.
He acknowledged the substantial international spectator presence at the RDS and Clifden shows, but stressed that there is no reason international visitors could not be attracted to shows and events that are on every weekend in every county in Ireland.
The key to attracting visitors will be creating awareness through innovative marketing and the digital platform has the potential to reach a global audience.