The Connemara pony is turning Japanese - on an island in the Oriental country.
Ireland's famous equestrian breed has winged its way to the east through a frozen semen sample from the Galway breed. The prized ponies are known for their sweet nature and jumping ability.
In a world first, the semen from a Connemara stallion was used to produce several embryos with a female Hokkaido pony native to Japan, which were then transplanted into other mares.
"It is very interesting that the Connemara pony which spent thousands of years in the west of Ireland is now being flown halfway around the world through frozen semen for breeding purposes," said Phyllis Jones from the Connemara Ponies Breeders' Society.
The research paper on the novel fertility method revealed the week-old embryos were carried by three surrogate pony mothers who gave birth to two fillies and a colt. They are the first foals produced in Japan using embryo transfer as a fertility method.
The research was carried out in the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Hokkaido.
The paper noted that until now there had been no reports of foals born through embryo transfer after artificial insemination using frozen semen in Japan.