CONNEMARA Pony owners and breeders are in outrage over news the 99th annual Connemara Pony Show at the Clifden Showgrounds may not go ahead.

As reported by The Irish Field in February of this year, the sand in the arena was found to be a safety issue with initial advice given to the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society (CPBS) not to use it until further notice.

This week, the society confirmed experts had since visited the site and that the estimated cost of rectification meant it could not be done in time for this year’s show, scheduled for August 20th to 23rd.

The show is an international showcase for the native breed that attracts thousands of visitors from home and abroad each year, many of whom have already booked and paid for flights and accommodation.

Those impacted have expressed their angst widely on social media, questioning how the society is not in the financial position to foot the bill, demanding to see the accounts for the running of previous shows and slamming the society over the detrimental effect cancellation would have on the local economy and the reputation of the breed.

In a statement in response to questions from The Irish Field, the CPBS said: “The recent inspection by both an engineer and an arena specialist company, conducted last week, confirmed that the surface does not meet the necessary standards. To rectify this, the entire surface needs to be redone. Additionally, it has been identified that there is no existing drainage system beneath the surface.

“We are still in the process of determining the full cost of these renovations. At this stage, we have received some quotations, but the costs are expected to be significant. The timeline for rectification is influenced by both cost and the regulatory approvals required for work on a protected flood plain, making it unlikely to be completed in time for August.

“We have actively engaged with the Connemara Pony community and are in ongoing discussions with local elected representatives and businesses to seek support. The community’s involvement is crucial, and we have received offers from alternative venues capable of hosting the show, which will be discussed at the next Council meeting.

“We understand the impact on local businesses and are exploring all options to mitigate this, including considering alternative venues.”

Volunteer crisis

The society said another issue facing the show was lack of volunteers, prompting a call for help on Facebook.

“All members of the Council were invited to join the show committee by the Show Chair, who has resigned,” they said.

“Additionally, the previous committee were approached to participate. Despite these efforts, the last show committee meeting was attended by only three people.

“Currently, our focus has been on addressing the immediate need for volunteers. Fundraising efforts for the surface issue will be considered once we have a clearer picture of the costs involved and the regulatory requirements.

A Clifden Chamber spokesperson said: “It would be a terrible shame if after 98 years this were to happen, especially a year after the centenary of the society being formed. It would have a huge impact on local businesses. However, we are confident if everyone involved collaborated and cooperated there must be a way to make it happen. It would be an enormous loss to the town, the society and the breeders and all those who put their heart and soul into the Connemara pony and the show.”

The next CPBS Council meeting, scheduled for this Wednesday evening, will be closed to the public with an update promised for next Thursday. To volunteer to assist the council, email