By Deirdre Geoghegan
What a difference four years makes…
Four year ago our journey began with Carn Verdon Boy (aka Mr. Darcy). My sister Joan, my husband Pat & I set out on a trip from Oughterard (Galway) to Mayo in search of a project pony. This trip would however, undoubtedly change our pony world forever.
We visited a number of farm yards that day but it wasn’t until our final stop that we spotted Carn Verdon Boy. Luckily for us he had not been sold at the February Clifden Connemara Pony Sales a few weeks earlier and had now been advertised online. The pen was shared by 5 ponies in a hay shed and they were all giddy and nervous with our arrival. Having only viewed them from a distance the bigger darker grey of the group caught our eye and Joan and I made the deal.
Carn Verdon Boy arrived in Canrower in March 2013, he was a 5 year old unbroken gelding that needed some tender loving care. It took time to gain his trust but we knew he would eventually come round with patience. As the weeks went on his potential started to surface more, his balanced floating movement, natural presence and quickness to learn made us realise that this gelding was very special. However, breaking this clever boy was not an easy feat as Darcy’s idea of being broken and ours were different, two A&E visits later and the job was finally done!!
Our plan was to show him at the Connemara Pony Show Clifden that Summer but on entering we discovered that his dam was a Class 3 mare , which disqualified him from being exhibited on the Thursday. Disappointed but not giving in, we then went about getting his dam from his breeder who kindly lent her to us to produce for Connemara
Pony Breeders Society (CPBS) inspections that Autumn.
His dam, Carn Lady Ash (by Robe Earl), received her Class 1 status with high marks that September and she never went home. She has joined us at Canrower Connemara Ponies, along with the foal she was then carrying, the now 3 year old gelding Canrower Mister Dempsey and also her last year’s colt foal Canrower Drom Tommie, by Silver Shadow. Carn Verdon Boy’s sire Ferdia is also visiting from the Aran Islands and most recently his ‘half sister’ by Ferdia has also come to live with us too. So you can safely say it’s a family affair and Carn Verdon Boy has family support!
During the following winter months Joan & I schooled Carn Verdon Boy, and also his young rider Laura Higgins, in the craft of the show ring. We all worked extremely hard and this dedication paid off in 2014 with numerous wins and prizes. The icing on the cake and the goal that we aimed for – the coveted red rosette at the Connemara Pony Show – was ours! The following year 2015 Carn Verdon Boy was partnered by Catherine Gorton, who again had a very successful season campaigning him around the country and she also introduced him to the art of side saddle. His showing successes not only lie in the ridden ring but he also had numerous in hand wins shown either by Joan or myself.
In November 2015 Carn Verdon Boy joined forces with Alana Cazabon and this dressage duo haven’t looked back. Alana, a Hickstead Dressage winner & twice European Pony Dressage Championship rider, has brought Carn Verdon Boy from winning Preliminary, Novice, Elementary levels at Regional shows to winning at Dressage Ireland National Winter Final Championships in five months. What an achievement for a Connemara Pony to take home the Novice Championship and Reserve Elementary Championship ahead of some very talented Warmblood horses that had been competing for years! It was testament to the training, skill and sheer talent that Alana holds along with her team, Judy & Siobhan Cazabon and all at Cleggan Beach Riding Centre. The duo also received the Highest Placed Connemara Pony at the Finals which Alana has won many times in the past with her other ponies.
Due to their achievements the CPBS invited Carn Verdon Boy & Alana to demonstrate their dressage freestyle musical performance at the CPBS annual festival in August 2016. What an honour this was and we were so proud of how much they had achieved in such a short time. After seeing their display the President of the Dutch Connemara Pony Society kindly invited Alana & him to attend the 50th Anniversary of their Society celebrations, we were delighted with the invitation but never in our wildest dreams expected to attend this event in March 2017.
Following on from their Dressage Ireland Final success in April, Alana & Darcy upped their game and gained qualifying scores at Medium level for the National Championships 2016. At the Championships their first Medium test didn’t go according to plan but we knew that our little Connie wouldn’t give in and the following day they achieved a score of 68.485% the second highest percentage of the Championships in Medium level and securing them a very respectable 5th place in the Championships, a 3rd in the Medium Freestyle Championships and taking home the Abbeyleix Owen trophy for the Highest placed Connemara pony. Again, a great success for a Connemara Pony that had only taken up dressage 10 months previously!
In February 2017 Alana’s training took her to Stal Hexagan, a top dressage yard in Holland. It was decided that ‘Darcy’ would join her and her horses to avail of this fabulous opportunity to compete and train aboard. In March they had their first competition at the Netherlands International Connemara Pony Show. The duo danced to the music of the Galway Girl for their Medium Freestyle performance and after the competition they were announced the winners with a very impressive score of 78% and their personal best. The Connemara Pony Breeders Society have kindly helped to sponsor this talented partnership for which we are very grateful and hopefully their success has helped promote the Connemara Pony worldwide.
So, the journey that we started four years ago has brought Joan & I on a road that we had only dreamed off and it’s all thanks to one very special Connemara pony – Carn Verdon Boy!
CLICK HERE to find out more about the Connemara Pony Breeders Society.
Breeding details: Carn Verdon Boy (CP) – 2008 gelding by Ferdia (CP) out of Carn Lady Ash (CP), by Robe Earl (CP). Breeder: Michael Dempsey, County Mayo. Owner: Deirdre Geoghegan, County Galway
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