Europe - Ireland

Irish Draught
Photo supplied by Horse Directory Australia ©

Many centuries ago native Irish horses were crossed with Norman horses although no formal records exist of that time. Later Andalusian and most likely eastern blood was used to breed larger horses of better quality suitable for riding, harness work and work on small Irish farms. The modern Irish Draught developed when quality mares were crossed with imported Thoroughbred stallions. Due to the famine in Ireland in 1847 the numbers declined and many horses were interbred with British heavy horses. To save the original Irish Draught the government introduced subsidies to approved stallions at the beginning of the 20th century, which proved a great success and in 1917 a "Book for Horses of the Irish Draught type" was introduced. 375 mares and 44 stallions were entered as suitable for the breed. In 1976 the Irish Draught Horse Society was formed.

Head: small
Shoulders: sloping
Body: strong body; deep chest; oval rib cage; powerful hindquarters
Legs: strong limbs; flat bones; no feather
Color: all solid colors
Height: stallions 16hh and over; mares 15.2hh and over
Temperament: kind, intelligent
Qualities: good natural balance; straight, athletic action; jumping power

The mineral rich Irish limestone pasture helps to produce good upstanding horses with strong bones. Their jumping prowess makes the Irish Draught a popular choice for show jumping at the highest level. The breed is also well suited for hunting in the most testing terrain.