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Other Irish Draught Info







What is so Special About the Irish Draught Horse and the Irish Draught Sport Horse?

The Irish Draught Horse isn't just another pretty face! The Irish Draught Purebred and Irish Draught Sport Horse breeds' credentials rank among the highest in the world for international show jumping and eventing competition. With consistent winnings world-wide in eventing and show jumping, the sport they founded, Ireland has essentially designed this powerful and noble equine for flight.

Conformationally, the Irish Draught is built to jump. The long, extremely well-angled shoulder is signature to the breed and is perhaps one of the most dominant characteristics. This incredibly free shoulder determines the highly prized jumping form and tremendous scope. Another equally significant conformational attribute is how the Irish Draught and Irish Draught Sport Horse use their powerful hindquarters. Rounded haunches enable sturdy, spring-loaded hocks to reach deep under the horse's center of gravity to catapult them over huge fences. In addition, the strong, well-balanced top line provides the extra lift needed to clear even the most ominous of obstacles. Lastly, ample bone and spacious hooves ensure soundness longevity.

When crossed with the Thoroughbred or Arabian, the resulting sport horse has increased stamina, speed, and agility and often becomes a jumping powerhouse with a hard to beat competitive edge. Traditionally pigeon holed as a world class jumper, the Irish Draught and Irish Draught Sport Horse are making their presence known in the dressage arena. The same superlative conformation creates the powerful suspension, impulsion, and flowing movement required at top level dressage competitions! 

History of the Irish Draught Horse and Irish Draught Sport Horse

The Irish Draught Horse breed has evolved over several hundred years through selective breeding. The breeds' foundation stock came from the native Irish horse, the Irish Hobby. These horses also provided the foundation for our modern-day Quarter Horses. These horses were small, active mounts primarily used for tending flocks and light farm work. Due to limited resources, the Irish farmers needed an easy to keep, stronger and more substantial horse that was able to do heavier farm work, pull the cart to market, and light enough to foxhunt on weekends. The Irish farm horse became an integral part of the family, and thus, a supremely willing and gentle disposition was paramount. To achieve this ultimate equine, the Irish infused their native stock with the heavier Norman blood which provided the much needed size, substance, and strength. Next, the Spanish Andalusian was introduced to produce the regal presence, exquisite topline, and light, flowing gaits. The end result is the incomparable present-day Irish Draught Horse.

Performance Accolades

Today, the Irish Draught breed boasts the greatest number of progeny at the top levels of international competition, yet few people know of its existence. On occasions that the breed of a particular horse is mentioned during competition, it is usually introduced as a "thoroughbred cross" or "warmblood cross". In many cases, these horses prove to be crossed with the Registered Irish Draught! The Irish Draught breed has long been known throughout the European equestrian community for its innate jumping ability, strength, long-term soundness and truly exceptional disposition. The proud stance of the Irish Draught is captivating. An intelligent head, regal neck, incredibly angled shoulders, powerful croup and substantial limbs are signature to the breed's conformation.

Endangered Breed

All the performance accolades would suggest that the Irish Draught would be one of the most flourishing breeds in the world. This, however, is not the case. The purebred Irish Draught is so rare that it is considered an endangered breed with only about 2,000 individuals world-wide. In the 1940's, the ravages of war and then the mechanization of farming resulted in a great decline in Irish Draught numbers. Interestingly, its very popularity as an extraordinary athlete furthered blighted the purebred population since much of the remaining herd was used to improve stock of other warmblood breeds.


The good news is that the same superior qualities of the Irish Draught are now responsible for its enthusiastic resurgence. European breeding programs continue to depend on the Irish Draught Horse to provide the athleticism, soundness and saneness required for top level performers. Moreover, the North American Baby-Boomers who have been searching for safer, kinder and more athletic equine partners can now choose the recently introduced Irish Draught and Irish Draught Sport Horses!


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