By Sally Oxnard
In 1994, I started riding my daughter’s Appaloosa, Charles, when her extracurricular activities began to take up her riding time. She preferred jumping, as any teenager does, but I always preferred dressage. In 1998, she left for college and I had an empty nest, and more importantly, an empty barn!
At Thanksgiving that year, I followed the advice of my aunt Patricia Lightbody and bought my first purebred Connemara mare, Tower Hill’s Carmody. Pat Lightbody was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the American Connemara Pony Society (ACPS) and competed in upper level dressage. She owned a gelding named Erin Casco Bay, a half brother of Erin Go Bragh. With her influence, I was easily bitten by the Connemara bug.
Carmody was a beautiful, black buckskin with a small star and lovely face. She was five years old and unstarted when she came to the farm. That spring, Heather Smith started training her for me, and I decided to breed her. My dressage instructor chose an Irish imported stallion, from an ACPS stallion video, named *Canal Laurinston. He was located in California and competed at Fourth Level in dressage, as well as in eventing and driving.
Meanwhile, we realized our farm needed a name, and since my husband and I are both pediatricians, the farm became Paradox Connemaras. Paradox Cricket was the first of five foals born to Carmody. The filly was born in May, just as my daughter came home from college. We were all in attendance: my daughter on the milk crate reading the manual, myself in the stall with my stop watch, and my husband on the video camera. It was a textbook delivery. Carmody was a natural mother and we were hooked!
Carmody’s routine cycle was to be bred in May, foal out the following April, and then leave in September for a year or two of work, with a young Pony Club rider. Then, she would return the next time she was outgrown, or the family moved on, and be bred again. We had the delight of delivering her five foals at home, and foaling one from Cricket.
One of my chief delights is hearing from a happy owner that a foal I bred is a success.
Paradox Cricket, my first foal, is a therapeutic riding pony and a favorite among her students. Paradox Pippin (Aladdin’s Denver x Carmody ) is owned and competed by Linda Roache in Connecticut, where they became Second Level Champion at a Connecticut Dressage Association (CDA) schooling show, as well as reserve champion at a Connecticut Dressage and Combined Training Association (CDCTA) recognized show. Paradox Presto (Tre Awain Dobh McDuff x Carmody) is in dressage training in North Carolina, though currently taking a break due to a tendon injury. Paradox Caeli (*Canal Laurinston x Carmody) became a hunter pony, and a new mother, in Michigan.
I retired Carmody when she was eighteen, until I met a petite eleven-year-old at the Equine Affaire in Massachusetts, who was looking for a Connemara to ride. The young lady, Cailey Fay, came to the farm the following week and tried Carmody. She fell in love, took her home, and they earned high point Connemara at Dressage4Kids the next summer, as well as cranking out a Pony Club rating or two. She returned Carmody after eighteen months, but this past spring she borrowed her again for the Emerging Dressage Athletes Program with Lendon Grey at Pineland Farms, in Maine. I know she will go far!
My most recent foals were by big moving Connemara stallions, with the aim of producing the perfect dressage pony. One filly, Paradox Cadence (Aluinn Durango x Whistle) was born with impulsion, presence, and some chrome. The other, more upright and very elegant, is Paradox Westerly (Kynynmont Cooper O’Grady x Tower Hill’s Breeze). We shall see what life has in store for these two girls.
In raising eight foals, I have learned a lot; color genetics in breeding buckskins, Hoof Wall Disease genetics, which stallion lines produce what in the off spring, etc. I have bought and started four mares, who have turned out to be wonderful, quick learners and great mothers. The Connemaras are very easy to collect and hard to part with, but it’s been a pleasure to see them become successful pony club mounts, hunter jumpers, dressage ponies, or just best friends!