Willie Leahy and Connemara Ponies at Dartfield Horse Museum

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Darley Newman
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Last time I was in Ireland, I was able to interview Willie Leahy at the Dartfield Horse Museum. Leahy is literally known all over the world as an adept horseman and breeder of Connemara Ponies. When I told several other riders from the United States about my plans to meet up with Willie once again, I heard many of their stories of riding with the great Willie Leahy.

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So, when I Western winds of Connemara blew our plans for a beach ride away (the winds were gusting so hard that we couldn't ride, let alone film), our group headed inland towards the Dartfield Horse Museum to interview Willie among his ponies.

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Located just outside of Galway, the Dartfield Horse Museum is a good side trip for horse enthusiasts. The museum highlights the history of horse in Ireland and has exhibits on horse anatomy and culture.

After having some tea inside, we ventured outside to see a trainer doing some jumping on a green, but promising pony, before driving onward into the fields with Willie. I don't know how many Connemara Ponies Willie owns, but there are a lot- definitely hundreds.

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At the site where we wanted to interview Leahy on camera, we hoped to have his Connemara's stand in the background. Anyone who knows horses, knows that this could prove difficult, especially in a large open area, like our spot of choice. We were amazed when Willie asked a group of about thirty horses to stay and they actually stood, some even lying down, for about twenty minutes in the same spot.

The Connemara Pony is an endearing, versatile breed, and as Willie told me stories of his ponies on the Connemara Trail, I looked back at the horses and then at Willie. His passion for Connemara, his ponies and the trails was contagious, and I only hoped that I'd get to ride with him soon.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Ireland episodes and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including Ireland equestrian vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.