Sunday 16 December 2018

Rare ponies winning the race against extinction

John Mulvihill, Danny Donovan, and Mike and Emma Teahan take their ponies for an annual bath in the sea at Rossbeigh Beach, Co Kerry, yesterday ahead of the sixth annual Kerry Bog Pony Show, which takes place at the Red Fox Inn in Glenbeigh on Saturday
John Mulvihill, Danny Donovan, and Mike and Emma Teahan take their ponies for an annual bath in the sea at Rossbeigh Beach, Co Kerry, yesterday ahead of the sixth annual Kerry Bog Pony Show, which takes place at the Red Fox Inn in Glenbeigh on Saturday
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE recession poses the biggest threat to one of the oldest breeds of native pony, which barely escaped extinction less than two decades ago.

There are now about 400 Kerry Bog Ponies in the world following a very successful breeding programme and campaign to promote the breed.

But breeders say the economic downturn now poses the biggest threat to the survival of the breed.

"The recession has caused a huge downturn in equines and the pony has lost value," said John Mulvihill, president of the Kerry Bog Pony Co-operative Society.

He hopes the buyers will be plentiful at the society's sixth annual show and sale at the Red Fox Inn, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry, on Saturday.

When the society got together there were only about 16 Kerry Bog Ponies left in the country.

Now the breed is in a good state and is listed third after the Connemara Pony and the Irish Draught Horse.

However, Mr Mulvihill believes the effort to promote the pony must be maintained to ensure its survival.

"The only fear that they will die out is if people stop showing an interest in breeding them," Mr Mulvihill added.

Mr Mulvihill hopes the suitability of the pony as a pet will help.

"It's a beautiful, steady, good-mannered little pony," he added.

"We're hoping people will rally round and protect this pony that is part of our heritage. It's been on small farms since before Famine times and it would be a shame if numbers dropped again."

Irish Independent

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