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Kerry bog pony

Kerry Bog Pony
Country of origin: Ireland
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

The Kerry Bog Pony is a very old Mountain and Moorland breed of pony originating in Ireland, and traditionally used for hauling peat from the bogs, as well as for general work on small holdings. The breed has a reputation for gentle temperament and versatility, originally used as a small draft animal during the week but also to drive a family to church on Sunday. It is smaller and distinct in appearance from Ireland's more widely known Connemara pony.



The Kerry Bog Pony was commonly used on small farms. Its use was affected by the widespread famine in Ireland in the 19th century, when so many people left the land. The Napoleonic Wars further eroded the ponies' numbers in Ireland, as the British swept through and conscripted them for pack ponies in the army. By the 20th century, the breed had almost vanished, declining to as few as an estimated 40.

In the 1990s the tireless efforts of a Kerryman named John Mulvihill put the Kerry Bog Pony in the public eye as a breed still in existence and worthy of saving. To obtain evidence in support of preservation, a genetic analysis of these survivors was undertaken by Weatherbys Laboratory[1] confirming unique genetic breed markers. Foundation ponies were identified and blood typed to re-establish the breed. In 2003 the first breeding herd was imported into the United States. The Kerry Bog Pony, also known as the "hobby," was saved. Ireland has recognized the breed as its National Heritage Pony. Stud books and registries now exist for the ponies in Ireland and the United States.[1][2][3] It is estimated that numbers are recovering upwards of 400.

Breed Characteristics

Size: mares 10 to 11 hands (40 to 44 inches, 102 to 112 cm), stallions and geldings up to 11.2 hands (46 inches, 117 cm)

Colour: commonly black, bay, or brown, but may be any whole colour including chestnut, dun, and grey. Tobiano, sabino and rabicano colorations are also known to occur in the breed, and are accepted in the American registry.

Coat: long and dense, easily capable of surviving harsh winter conditions without shelter.

Head: average size, rather dished. Eyes small and pointed, nostrils large. Jaw strong and well-formed with excellent dentition.

Body: neck is strong and medium length. Shoulder rounded and muscular. Body compact and strong with deep chest of good girth and well-sprung ribs. Loins powerful, quarters strong and well-formed.

Legs: forelegs strong and muscular with strong forearm. Hindlegs muscular and powerful. Cannons short with flat hard bone of good size. Pasterns short, hooves well formed of hard horn requiring little trimming.

Action: powerful with great strength relative to its size. Combined with its excellent conformation, the pony has straight and level action with good balance. Intelligent and sure-footed, with good judgement in boggy terrain.

Temperament: kind, sensible, confident, and well-mannered, with great courage and endurance. Unsoundness and undesirable traits found in many pony breeds were bred out at a much earlier stage. Can be easily trained to harness or saddle, and is suitable for work as a children's riding pony..[4]


The ponies are used not only by children, but are shown and driven by adults. They are also used as companion animals. The Kerry Bog Pony's disposition and size makes it suitable for therapy programs as well.


  1. American Kerry Bog Pony Society
  2. Kerry Bog Pony Cooperative
  3. Irish Kerry Bog Pony Society
  4. Kerry Bog Pony Cooperative

External links


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