March 22nd dawned sunny and cold with a brisk northwest wind of 15 mph that kept everybody bundled in their winter garb.  The below average temperatures in central Connecticut, however, did not keep the sturdy, ACPS Region I New Englanders from venturing to their annual Connemara Tea hosted by Carolyn McEvitt at her Hope Valley Farm in Amston.  There were 26 attendees from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont that participated in this year’s Connemara Tea.

Guests began to arrive around 10:30 bringing many delicious food items with them.  Some of the food items included several varieties of quiche, venison chili, stuffed bread, deviled eggs, a cold cut platter, Caesar salad, cabbage & Swiss chard salad, fruit salad, coffee cake, plenty of Irish Soda bread with REAL butter, oatmeal cookies, chocolate cakes, cheese cake, chocolate covered strawberries, pastries, an assortment of cookies and many other items that made for a great brunch!!  In true Irish tradition all dieting intentions were left at the door and the food was set upon with gusto! 

Socializing took place until about noon when our President, Pat Shields, opened our meeting.  We began with general introductions around the group, putting faces to names, who owned what ponies, new members/old members identified, and interests each pony owner had. The first topic of discussion was Field Day, which will be held on May 24th from 9:00 to 4:30 at Lollipop Farm in Brooklyn, CT withLaurie Davis-Sigfridson as our host and clinician.  According to Pat the afternoon session is full, but there is still room in the morning session.  If we have advanced riders/ponies that have not yet responded we will do our best to accommodate, but please respond as spaces are limited.

We then moved on to discuss the breed show.  Amy Plavin is in charge of the breed show this year, which will be held July 18th & 19th with the traditional fundraiser trail ride on July 17th.  We will be in need of volunteers and in Amy’s words,”I need extra hands to help in general as I will be managing the show this year and my head might be spinning by the end! “.  So anybody wishing to help at the show, PLEASE email Carolyn McEvitt at cbmcevitt@comcast.net.  A volunteer listing will be sent out in May/June which will list each job and the responsibility it carries.  For the trail ride, if anybody would like to be able to drive their pony, please let us know!!  GMHA has driving trails that they will mark for us.  The proceeds for this year’s trail ride will go to UC Davis Melanoma Research.

2016 will be our breed show’s 50th anniversary!!  Members all agreed that we need to do something special for it.  One suggestion was to have an Irish judge and try to coordinate with Region III’s show so that we might share the judge.  It was agreed that we needed to set up a show committee for next year’s festivities.  Please let Amy know if you would like to help out on the committee!  Amy’s email is whconnemaras@gmail.com.

Availability of scholarships was then discussed.  The application for the Region I Kessler Scholarship is due April 1st and may be found in last quarter’s Bits & Pieces.   Liz Platais also brought applications to the Tea for anybody interested in applying.  The ACPS also offers both adult and junior scholarships and applications may be found on the ACPS website.

The topic of registering the quarter-bred Connemara pony with the Connemara Sport Horse Registry was brought up.  As described by the ACPS, the quarter-bred Connemara is “no less than one-quarter Connemara. A stallion service certificate is required if sired by a Halfbred Connemara Stallion. If the dam of the Connemara Sport Horse is a halfbred Connemara, her registered name and registration number are required. Those eligible for Connemara Sport Horse certificates are the result of breeding a Registered Halfbred to a Registered Halfbred or Registered Halfbred to a Non-Connemara.”

Finally, the talk on Straightness Training was given by Meg Brauch, owner of Narnia Stables in Ashford, CT.  Meg trains with Marijke de Jong of the Netherlands, founder of the Straightness Training philosophy and exercises.  Meg spoke with the group for about an hour describing the exercises through a PowerPoint presentation as well as showing some actual videos of Straightness Training taking place.  We proceeded outdoors where we were greeted by bright sunshine and an almost clean pony.  Ripleigh’s Abra Cadabra was the demo pony for Meg to demonstrate the very first steps of working with the Straightness Training exercises. 

The Tea concluded with members warming themselves back up and indulging in some final refreshments before saying goodbye and heading home.  Many thanks to all that traveled far to come to this year’s TEA, especially to Kim Sterl for helping with the pre-TEA setup, Ginny Winkler, Sue Antilla, Katie Donaruma for arriving early and providing extra hands and laughs, Bethany & Hannah Powell for cleaning the dirty white pony, Meg Brauch for educating us on Straightness Training, Pat & Rebecca Shields for transporting the Region I Store to the Tea, Sally Oxnard & Liz Platais for the lovely flowers and everybody else for their great sense of humor and camaraderie.  We really are a great group of pony lovers!!!  Here’s to warmer weather and happy trails!  See you all at Field Day!

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