Irish Draught horses are native to Ireland. They are a light
draught breed that was historically developed for work on farms. Today they
have adapted to the ever-changing pace of equestrianism to become a very versatile
breed. As a foundation breed of the Irish Sport Horse, the Irish Draughts temperament
makes them easy to work with in any discipline. Along with characteristics of strength,
intelligence, courage, and light action they are an ideal equine to partner with
from amateur to professional rider.
From the earliest times horses have always been a part of Irish
life. Over the years small active native horses were crossed with Norman horses
and Spanish Andalusian stallions to increase the size of the native breed. In addition,
the Thoroughbred has also played a significant role in the development of the Irish
Draught breed throughout the centuries. References to the Irish Draught Horse date
back to the 18th century. At the time a great increase in the area of land under
tillage took place and this created a demand for bigger, stronger, and more docile
horses. Irish breeders developed a draught horse that was lighter and more adaptable
than the heavier draught horses found in England.
Due to the small size of farm holdings in Ireland most farmers
could not afford to keep more than one horse. A breed developed that was could be
used not only to ‘plough, sow, reap and mow’ but also to hunt, ride and drive the
family to church on a Sunday. Consequently, today’s Irish Draught Horse is not simply
a working horse, but a riding and leisure horse as well.
Their wonderful temperament makes them easy to work with in any
discipline. Their strength, intelligence, and lightness of step means that they
can perform in many varied disciplines including showjumping, eventing, dressage,
hunting, showing, driving, le trec, and endurance riding. Above all, their reliability
makes them extremely safe and sound horse for the amateur and leisure rider.
Today the Irish Draught horse can be found competing in every
aspect of equestrian sport. Ever since show jumping had its birth in Ireland and
went on to become an international sport, Irish Draught crosses have been a foundation
breed for the Irish Sport Horse. The even temperament, athleticism, and durability
of the breed, crossed with Thoroughbred and sport horse breeds has created a potent
mix which is well up to the demands of today’s equestrian sports.
Source: Irish Horse Gateway (www.irishhorsegateway.ie).