Kerry Bog Pony

The Kerry Bog Pony originated in Ireland, possibly a descendent of the Irish Hobby Horse, originally inhabiting the peat bogs of County Kerry, southwest Ireland. Although the exact origin of the Kerry Bog Pony is unknown, images from a 1617 book show similarities to the Irish Hobby as well as the Kerry Bog of today.

The pony was initially used for transporting peat and kelp from the bog over a variety of terrain. Some were used to pull carts and others were for harness. When they were not being worked, the ponies were left to roam the bogs. Breeding was done naturally in the wild.

During the Peninsular War of 1804, the British cavalry used the Kerry Bog Pony as pack animals. Further decline of the population was a result of the famine from 1845 to 1852. As the 1800s progressed, the peat was being used less and machinery began to be used more, the Kerry Bog Pony was not needed as much and left to roam free. They were sometimes shot by locals and the breed almost became extinct.

In 1994, the Kerry Bog Pony was thought to be extinct. However, John Mulvihill searched and found 20 ponies resembling the breed and relocated them to his stables. DNA tests were given and the results proved the ponies were a distinct breed. There was one stallion in the herd and between 1995 and 2012 more than 140 foals were born.

In 2002 the Kerry Bog Pony Society was formed and ponies began to be exported to the United States. In 2005, the Kerry Bog was recognized as an official breed. As of 2011 there were 335 mares and 51 stallions in the Irish registry. Including 59 foals.

The Kerry Bog studbook contains four classes for the breed.
Class 1: Meets all requirements.
Class 2: Doesn’t meet height requirements.
Class 3: Doesn’t meet color requirements.
Class 4: Have not been inspected yet.

The breed is unique for walking on soft ground. The hind feet generally track outside the front feet and they have a low weight-to-height ratio. They are very muscular and strong. The head has a concave profile with small ears and large eyes. The average height of the Kerry Bog Pony is between 40 to 48 inches. In the winter the pony has a long dense coat. Colors vary greatly and the pony can have palomino or white markings. However, pinto-colors are not accepted in the registry.

It is an intelligent, athletic and strong breed used for driving, companionship and also in therapeutic riding programs.

Image Caption: Young Kerry Bog Pony. Credit: Jim Linwood/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)