National Geographic: Ballad of the Irish Horse

Synopsis:
Year:
1985
22 Views


One, two, three, four...

God bless you.

After a few pounds are given

to the seller for luck,

Alan leaves the fair

with a Connemara pony...

symbol of his future

and his heritage.

Some 9,000 years ago,

man made his way here,

crossing a land bridge that

once linked Scotland and Ireland.

Horses arrived about 2,000 B.C.,

brought by Neolithic people

who introduced their farming

culture to this fertile land.

The island's placid existence

exploded around 500 B.C.,

as a wave of

Celtic warriors invaded

their battle chariots drawn

by hot blooded horses.

When the bloody days of plunder

and murder subsided,

the invaders became settlers,

and their Celtic legacy imprinted

its indelible stamp

on the soul and style of Ireland.

The blood of their fiery mounts

mixed with that of

the indigenous ponies,

producing a better, faster horse.

Over the centuries, successive

tides of conquering peoples

and ideas were

to sweep across Ireland

in her poignant

and tumultuous history.

There were Vikings,

Normans, and Englishmen.

There were St. Patrick

and Christianity.

All would create permanent changes

on the face of the land

and in the hearts of

the Irish people.

But certain things

would never change.

For thousands of years

and hundreds of generations,

man and horse continued

to share the soil of Ireland.

Today, in the west,

Connemara ponies

still run free

over the wild countryside.

Here at Lough Mask in County Mayo,

John Daly has kept

two stallions isolated

on an island through the winter.

The island is a short trip

by boat

from the lakeshore

and Daly's stud farm

Connemara ponies are, in fact,

small horses,

muscular and strong boned

Perfectly adapted to

the rugged western landscape,

they retain the iron constitutions

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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