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The Irish Draught Horse

The Irish Draught/Sport horse cross is one of the most misunderstood breeds in the US! What we fail to recognize is that the Irish generally aren't sentimental about their horses. The horses need to work for a living too! And all horses in Ireland are for sale!

The Irish aren't likely to breed a mare that's lame, or put up with a dangerous, uncontrollable mount (but they may sell it to an unsuspecting American).

You can buy a RID mare or stallion in Ireland and ship it to the US and breed all the Irish Draughts and Draught crosses you want, but you won't end up with horses like they have in Ireland!

And it’s not just the grass, although that does have something to do with it. Breeding, training and the selling of horses is Irelands third largest industry! (It was 2nd until the computer companies moved in. Tourism was 1st) . It’s hard to compete with hundreds of years of selective breeding!

Working in the horse industry is considered a respectable profession like a Doctor or Solicitor. And the horses are started at grass. They are turned out with other horses to socialize, and it’s not uncommon to find an unbacked 5yr old. Large boned horses develop more slowly and stay sound longer if started properly.

They also take their conditioning seriously. The youngsters will go out for a bit of cubbing (pre-season hunting) and an older horse will lead it over that 6 ft wide 8 ft deep ditch with the 3’6 hedge in the middle.

The show jumpers are sometimes competed on someone's lunch hour: You pull your fully tacked up horse out of the horse box, jump three rounds of fences, pop him back in the box and off you go, kind of like working out at the gym on your lunch hour.

They are a horse-based culture. Even the homeless (Travelers) have horses!

It’s hard to explain the way the Irish feel about their horses! After having lived and worked there, and now with my business based in Ireland, I have a real connection there. I even bought a house there. A place to keep my Irish horses until they are ready to come to California!

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