The History of the Irish Draught
The history of the Irish Draught dates back many hundreds of years with a distinct Spanish connection. Ireland and Spain were regular traders for many centuries - with Ireland exporting wool, hides and butter, and receiving wine, cloth, horses and specie (money in the form of coins, rather than notes) in return. The class of Spanish horse introduced was the Andalusian Barb, brought to Ireland’s shores in the 16th Century.
There is evidence, however, that an oriental influence was present in Ireland prior to direct trade with Spain. The Irish infused their native breed, the Hobby, with heavier Norman blood, which provided much-needed size, substance and strength. Next, the Andalusian was introduced to produce the regal presence – an exquisite top line and light, flowing gaits.
The end result is the incomparable present day Irish Draught, which is a multi-purpose, active farm horse, capable of tilling a small farm, pulling a sidecar to market and milk to the creamery at a steady trot, carrying the farmer out hunting, and breeding a foal each year to sell (usually by a Thoroughbred horse and often to foreign buyers). It had to be quiet to handle, strong and economical to keep. Above all, it had to be dependably sound throughout its working life, because the livelihood of the small farm depended on the reliability and efficiency of this horse.
The purebred Irish Draught has been placed on the rare breeds list (Rare Breeds Survival Trust), as the popularity of the Irish Sport Horse (Irish Draught x Thoroughbred) cross has led to a decrease in the numbers of purebreds being bred. This trend also exists in Ireland. The breeding herd in Ireland is closely related to just three main performance sires: King of Diamonds RID, Clover Hill RID and Pride of Shaunlara RID.
The objectives of the Society are
The Irish Draught is judged or classified according to the British Breed Standard, which sets out requirements for the breed.
Irish Sport Horses are classified according to the proportion of Irish Draught characteristics displayed, in addition to their pedigree.
Irish Draught Horse Breed Standard
Type and Character
The Irish Draught Horse is an active, short-shinned, powerful horse with substance and quality. It is proud of bearing, deep of girth and strong of back and quarters. Standing over a lot of ground, it has an exceptionally strong and sound constitution. It has an intelligent and gentle nature and is noted for its docility and common sense.
Stallions 15.3hh to 16.3hh approx.
Mares 15.1hh to 16.1hh approx.
Good, strong, clean bone.
Good, bold eyes set well apart, wide forehead and long, well-set ears. Head should be generous and pleasant, not coarse or hatchet headed, though a slight roman nose is permissible. The jawbones should have enough room to take the gullet and allow for ease of breathing.
Shoulders, Neck and Front
Shoulders should be clean-cut and not loaded, withers well defined, not coarse; the neck set in high and carried proudly, showing a good length of rein. The chest should not be too broad and beefy. The forearms should be long and muscular, not caught in at the elbows; the knee large and generous, set near the ground, and the cannon bone straight and short, with plenty of flat clean bone, and never back at the knee (calf-kneed) i.e. not sloping forward from knee to fetlock. The bone must not be round or coarse. The legs should be clean and hard with a little hair permissible at the back of the fetlock, as a necessary protection; the pasterns strong and in proportion, not short and upright nor long and weak. The hoof should be generous and sound, not boxy or contracted and there should be plenty of room at the heel.
Back, Hindquarters, Body and Hind Legs
The back is to be powerful, the girth very deep. The loins must not be weak but the mares must have enough room to carry a foal. The croup to buttocks is to be long and sloping, not short and rounded or flat-topped; hips not wide and plain. Thighs are strong and powerful and at least as wide from the back view as the hips, with the second thighs long and well-developed. The hocks are near the ground and generous, points not too close together or wide apart but straight; they should not be out behind the horse but should be in line from the back of the quarters to the heel to the ground; they should not be over bent or in any way weak. The cannon bone, etc. as for the foreleg should be short and strong.
Smooth and free but without exaggeration and not heavy or ponderous. Walk and trot to be straight and true with good flexion of the hocks and freedom of the shoulders.
Any strong whole colour, including greys.
A detailed explanation, of what Australian Inspectors are looking for when viewing horses to enter the studbook, can be found in our Members Only section
Gortfree Hero RID Class 1 Ireland
Champion Stallion 2018 at the Royal Dublin Show
Champion Stallion 2018 at the Royal Dublin Show