| The last of the five native pony sires to establish a family line
in the first fifteen years of the Connemara Pony Breeders Society was MOUNTAIN LAD NO 32.
He was registered in 1938 by which time he was ten years old. A year later he was dead but
his son TULLY LAD No 48 ensured this valuable male line survived be it only by a slender
thread. Tully Lad's five registered sons did not make a substantial contribu- tion to the
breed and it was not until his grandson THUNDERBOLT caught the atten- tion of breeders in
both Ireland and England that the full potential of this line was realised. The same could
be said when a great grandson HAZY DAWN began to leave his mark in Europe.
Thunderbolt's life was a long and varied one. Born in 1963 he spent three seasons on the Society stallion list 1969 - 1971. He was then moved to Co. Limerick where he spent nine years at The Mount Coote stud as their teaser. In 1980 he returned to Connemara for four seasons before being sold to a syndicate of breeders in England.
In his 21st year Thunderbolt crossed the Irish Sea and then spent eleven happy and productive years at the Cocum Stud in Surrey. As a result we can be more confident about the future of this line than at any time in the past. Thunderbolt's English bred sons Spinway Comet and Cocum Camelot are making a sizeable contribution and Comet already has a son Innellan Kestral at work in Connemara. An Irish bred grand- son Thunderball stands in Co Mayo and a son Thunderstorm in Co Meath. Thunder Bay - who might be considered an 'afterthought' because he was not registered until eleven years of age, stands in Co Longford.
Because the male descendants of this line have always been few we tend to overlook the good mares who are, of course, of similar importance. Village Laura, many times breed champion. Dooneen Star, Homeward Bound 2nd and Hazel Dun are but four of those who continue to breed a good foal a year in the West of Ireland. Cocum Fairy, Chiltern Sunday and Oaklands One Fine Day are three of Thunderbolt's gifts to the English syndicate which are greatly treasured.
English breeders have also supplied France with Cocum Thunder Boy and Germany with Chiltern Thunderburst, both promising young sires. We can take great comfort as we look around the world and see how breeders have come to appreciate this male line as a valuable outcross to those popular Macdara and Carna Bobby lines. Thunderbolt's strength of body and bone, his endearing temperament and true pony characteristics with which he endows his progeny are supremely important as the Connemara breed rides into the new millennium.
|I have been encouraged to conclude this portrait on a personal note. I fell in love with Thunderbolt at the Clifden show way back in 1981 when he was handled by Mikey King and he took the red rosette in the Confined stallion class. He exuded his own particular brand of charm, which can only be described as a zest for life. He moved around the ring as if he owned it and wanted the spectators to be aware that this was the case. He did not have a very long stride but a proud head carriage, an abundance of bone and a compact body. I could not get him out of my mind and the following day we went to Streamstown to meet him in person. Mikey King brought him out of his small stable and trotted him up the road before taking us to his house to see the Waterford crystal he had won the day before. It was not until I came to com- plete the review of the stallion lines for Shrouded in Mist two years later that I real- ised his immense value as one of two male survivors of the Mountain Lad line. From that time on I took an interest in his progeny and his role in the future prospects of the breed. Never did I imagine we would welcome Thunderbolt to England in his old age and that I would be lucky enough to be his part owner and the breeder of his children. He soon won the hearts of those who cared for him at the Cocum stud and his death left a big void.|
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