Irish Draft Horse
The magnificent horse, “master of all trades”, the Irish sledging for centuries carried out the most diverse tasks of the peasants of his land. Extreme versatility and marvelous appearance — such characteristics evolved in the breed, which was designed to satisfy the demand for horses capable of pulling the plow, transporting farmers and the fruits of their labors, and accompanying people to hunt. Thanks to his athletic data, this is the only draft horse that can rightly be called a wonderful jumper. His world fame is a gift of fate: mares, crossed with an English horse, give birth to an Irish hunter – an excellent hunting horse and an excellent jumper.
Color, always of uniform color, may be bay, dark bay, gray, red and sometimes black; often white spots. The head is small, with a straight profile, a broad forehead, long, widely spaced ears, expressive, sincere eyes, a small muzzle, wide nostrils. Medium length, strong and slightly arched. The withers are rather raised, the back is long, massive, well set. The spinous lumbar line is long and straight, the croup is sloping. The tail is set high when moving. The chest is broad and muscular, the belly is oval-shaped, extensive and powerful. Legs covered with sparse strands are strong and with good staging: the forearms are long, the pasterns are also long, massive, with flat bone, hock joints are proportional, with thick and well-formed joints, tendons are strong and lean. The hooves are wide and round, with a medium-high horn, rather sensitive.
Regarding the origin of horses in Ireland, sources disagree. The first horses that inhabited the island were ponies brought by the Celts. The theory of the appearance of big horses there says that they could have happened at the beginning of the Middle Ages, from the crossing of a pony of a bonnet and horses of Berbero-Spanish origin. An increase in size and good character could have gone from European draft breeds of French or Flemish origin, brought to Ireland in 792 during the invasion of the Normans. The British brought heavy horses, conquering the island in 1172. The first exact date dates back to the beginning of the XIX century, when the first crossings with thoroughbred riding occurred. Around 1840, the Irish harness is described in the documents as a beautiful horse, not too tall (about 1.57 m), with a strong build, short, strong legs, a short ridge and straight, embossed legs.
Also, their backs were fairly straight and, as a result, movements became flattened (shaved), but ordered. Despite all this, they rode on horseback and even on the hunt. This great Irish passion turned into a desire to develop the breed, rooting in her the determination and courage necessary for a gallop with natural obstacles of all kinds. Crop failure in 1847 and the economic crisis of 1879 led to a reduction in the number of Irish sleds. When the situation improved again, the demand for horses suddenly increased, given that they had to compete with imports of Shire and Clydesdale from Scotland. Crossing the mares of the Irish harness with these two breeds solved the number problem, but also brought many negative changes in terms of structure and quality. In 1904, the improvement of the breed began, and the stallions were purchased with government subsidies. A book of horses of the type Irish draft was founded (Book for Horses of the Irish Draft Type), and in 1917 a pedigree book of the breed was introduced.
Irish harness involved in agricultural work, transportation of goods and hunting. Often used also with a saddle and can carry a heavy rider at any distance. Endowed with a strong spirit of cooperation, this horse is very unpretentious and does not require special maintenance costs.
All the time, she retains mobility, which allows her to shine at a gallop and be a bold but careful jumper. This helps to understand how from the “marriage” of a mare of this breed (in Ireland there is at least one Irish sledding mare on every family farm) and thoroughbred riding you get a great jumper Irish hunter. The breed is famous because it gave the world (besides this crossing) beautiful horses for jumping and triathlon. The Irish hunter is an ideal horse for hunting, and in time he proved to be a wonderful sport horse.