The Irish Draught Horse
Irish horses, namely the Irish Draught horse, are best known for their incredible hunting and jumping abilities. This
breed has been traced back many centuries despite the fact that there are no formal stud books or records. They
go right back to when the Norman horses were brought to Ireland and bred with the native mounts. Not long later,
Andalusian blood was added, improving the overall quality of the horses.
The product of this breeding was a nice, all-rounded mount that was completely tailor-made to the Irish way of
life. It was capable of working on small Irish farms, but light enough to be harnessed to a trap or take a rider
quickly across the countryside. Today’s modern Irish Draught is said to have been created by the crossing
of imported Thoroughbred stallions with the nicest of the Irish mares.
The amount of these lovely creatures declined in Ireland following the horrific famine of 1847. Also, some heavier
horses were introduced from Britain, but this just led to a roughening of the Irish Draught horse. In the early years
of this century, a subsidies plan was devised by the government to save the best of the stock that was left. The result
was the energetic, all-rounded Irish Draught that we love and know.
In 1917, the Department of Agriculture created what they called a scheme to establish a book for horses of the Irish
Draught type. Into this book, 375 approved mares and 44 stallions were entered. In 1976, the Irish Draught Horse
Society was formed. The quality of the Irish Draught horses is greatly owing to the limestone paddocks in which
they grow up. The mineral-rich grass contributes very much to the growth of solid, strong bone and the producing
of outstanding horses.
The modern Irish Draught is pretty solid, but also highly attractive and athletic. People praise it for its
smartness and gentleness. It is renowned for its hunting prowess and capability to compete and win in the sport
of show jumping. Irish Draught horses are reasonably tall, stallions standing at 16 hands plus and mares at 15.2
hands or more. They come in all solid colours.
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