The Kerry Bog Pony is a small, elegant pony breed. It is of Irish origin and is exceptionally refined for a native breed. It has a powerful, compact body with a strong bone structure. The head is medium sized and pleasing to the eye. It has small eyes and small, pointed ears. The head is situated upon a medium sized, strong and muscular neck. The shoulders are well formed and powerful and the chest broad and deep. The legs are strong and the tail well set and bushy. The coat is dense, thick and long, designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.
stallions are on average 11-12 hands high while mares are 10-11 hands high.
The most common colors are brown, black and bay. Less common are grey, chestnut and dun.
The Kerry Bog Pony is a kind, well mannered breed. It is brave, intelligent and reliable, therefore an excellent ride for most, even children. Violent behavior and anxiety have been bred out of the Kerry Bog; overall, it has an excellent temperament and is a very easy going breed.
In Ireland, these ponies have traditionally been used as working animals. In peatlands they carried peat from the bog to the roadside, they were used as all purpose horses in the farm performing various tasks, but were also kept for leisure. Later, Kerry Bogs were used as cavalry horses. Nowadays, most Kerry Bogs are kept as companion animals and many are displayed in shows. Their excellent disposition makes them suitable to be ridden by children, while many are used for therapeutic purposes.
They are a strong, hardy breed able to withstand the harshest weather conditions and thrive on grass and hay. These ponies have a large heart and spacious lungs which have played a great role in their survival in adverse conditions. If kept inside, owners should make sure to give them frequent outdoor access, as the pasture is their natural environment.
The breed gets its name from Kerry, Ireland. In the 17th century these ponies were used in peatlands and, later, during the Peninsular Wars and the First World War they were used in cavalry. This, along with the beginning of mechanization, reduced their numbers dramatically. In 1994 the breed reached the brink of extinction, when there were only 20 individuals left all over Ireland. The breed owes its survival to Mr. John Mulvihill who decided to take matters in his own hands and keep the breed alive; today, there are approximately 150 Kerry Bogs in Ireland, due to his breeding efforts.
All Kerry Bogs to be found in Ireland today have been genetically tested to ensure that they retain all of their breed characteristics and are in fact descendants of the 17th century Kerry Bogs. Like most horse breeds, the average lifespan of the Kerry Bog is 25-30 years.