Irish horses are exported all over the world. We have three indigenous breeds, each of them 'as popular as the other'
Irish Draught. The Irish Draught is also known as "the horse of the countryside" because of its use as working horse on many small Irish farms.
More information about the Irish Draft
The Irish Draft is also known as “the horse of the countryside,” because of its use on many small Irish farms. Not only due to the rougher terrain, but also because of the need for a more adaptable horse, one that could be worked as well as ridden and driven, the Irish farmer developed a smaller, lighter horse than the English draft-type horses. When cross-bred with the Thoroughbred, the Irish Hunter is created, said to be one of the most versatile of cross-country horses.
Physical description of the Irish Draft
The Irish Draft stands between 15 and 17 hands high. It has a straight face carried on a short, strong neck. The massive legs are very hard and strong with large, round hooves. There is a noted absence of feather around the ankles. As assured by its background, the Irish Draft is economical to keep. It is active and willing, with a natural ability to jump.
Interesting facts about the Irish Draft
Because of the general use of the Irish Draft, as noted by it being referred to as “the horse of the countryside,” breed standards have been hard to come by. The breed nearly disappeared after the Famine of 1847. When Clydes and Shires were introduced shortly thereafter, action was taken to try to keep the breed pure. By 1917, 375 mares and forty-four stallions were entered into a “Book of Horses of the Irish Draft Type” as being suitable to meet the breed status. In the middle of this century, due to a rise in popularity and demand for hunters, the breed was definitely set and promoted by its own breeders society.
Origins of the Irish Draft
Although there are no records of foundation sires or early breeding records, one can make relatively safe guesses at the background of the Irish Draft. Horses have existed in the Irish countryside for well over a thousand years, mainly ponies that were the forerunners of the Irish Hobby. The Irish Draft pulls some of its blood from these first ponies, but with many changes. The heavy Norman horses added size and weight to the horses and, later, Andalusian blood erased most traces of Hobby characteristics that the Irish Draft may have carried. The modern Irish Draft is most likely the direct result of Thoroughbred sires crossed with the most powerful mares found throughout the countryside. In 1917 the Department of Agriculture established a book for the establishment of the Irish Draft type, and later, after a slight decline in standards, an Irish Draft Society was set up to promote and preserve the breed.
Irish Hunter Excellent over fences, the solidly built Irish Hunter is a combination of Irish Draught horses and Thoroughbred. Also known as the Irish sport horse.
More information about the Irish Hunter
Ireland is a country known the world over for its outstanding horses, and the Irish Hunter is no exception. Excellent over fences, the solidly built Irish Hunter is a combination of Irish Draft horses and Thoroughbred. As the name implies, this horse is a popular hunting horse and is known as a horse suited to one and even two days of hunting per week during the hunting season. The general characteristics of Hunters call for a bold, intelligent horse with great stamina and jumping ability. Good conformation is also desirable due to the long hours endured by both horse and rider.
Physical description of the Irish Hunter
The Irish Hunter can be found in all colors except skewbald and piebald. The head is well proportioned, the eyes are large and expressive, ears are nicely shaped and long and the neck is lengthy and muscular with a slight arch. The classic Hunter is well-proportioned with a sloping shoulder, strong back and loins. A well-set head allows the horse to keep balance in all paces. Depending on the classification, Hunters stand at varying heights. There are five categories for the horses depending on weight of the rider and height of the horse: up to 175 lb., up to 196 lb., over 196 lb., small (14.2-15.2 hh), and lady’s. In addition, there are sub-categories for show horses that are also used in the field: lightweight working Hunter, heavyweight working Hunter, and child’s working Hunter.
Interesting facts about the Irish Hunter
Because the Thoroughbreds needed to breed quality Hunters are too expensive for the average breeder, the Hunters’ Improvement and National Light Horse Breeding Society has for years matched selected Thoroughbred stallions for those members with the correct type of mare.
Origins of the Irish hunter
The Irish Hunter is the result of crossing good weight-carrying mares, the Irish Draft and the Cleveland Bay, with Thoroughbred stallions.
Connemara Pony Legend says that the Connemara Pony descended from Spanish horses, rescued from the Armada when the ships wrecked on the rocky coast of western Ireland in 1588.
More information about the Connemara pony
Legend has it that the Connemara Pony descended from Spanish horses, rescued from the Armada when the ships wrecked on the rocky coast of western Ireland in 1588. In fact, the Connemara’s ancestors lived in Ireland for thousands of years, although some of the Armada’s horses may have mated with local stock. It is certain that Thoroughbred and Arabian blood was introduced in the 1700s. By the 1920s the breed was threatened by random breeding and the Connemara Pony Breeders Society was formed to preserve the purity of the breed. A key to the excellence of the Connemara Pony is the hardy environment in which it lives. Turned out to survive the harsh weather on rough pasture, only the strong of the breed survive.
Physical description of the Connemara pony
The body of the Connemara is compact and deep, yet not bulky. It has legs which are short, clean and have ample bone; the shoulders are rounded. The Connemara has a handsome head, the neck fairly lean and it has abundant mane and tail. The Connemara stands between 12.2 and 14.2 hands. In spite of its relatively small size, the Connemara is known as an excellent hunter and jumper, and it competes in such varying events as distance riding and dressage. The Connemara was originally dun in color, but this color is now rare. It is most frequently found gray, but also in black, bay and brown.
Interesting fact about the Connemara pony
By the beginning of this century, the purity of the Connemara was threatened by the random cross-breeding with other breeds of horses. Also, many Connemaras were being kept in stables and hence inferior examples survived. In the 1920s a group of owners chose a dozen quality ponies and turned them into the wilds to live and reproduce. Those that survived had excellent qualities, and they preserved the stamina and purity of the breed.
Origins of the Connemara pony
The Connemara is a member of that group of equines known as mountain and moorland ponies. It originated in the county of Connaught in western Ireland. Arab and Spanish blood have been introduced to refine the breed. But the Connemara, in turn, was used to influence the fine Irish hunter.