As long ago as 1 BC, chariot horses of a smaller Irish Draught type were described by an Irish writer in the sagas of the day.
Centuries later the Normans introduced the blood of their huge chargers to the native horses and later again the trade between southern Ireland and Spain resulted in an infusion of Spanish blood whose influence can still be seen today.
As recently as the First World War their strength, stamina, agility and quiet temperaments took them to Europe in their thousands to serve on the front lines as remounts and artillery horses.
However, the Irish Draught as we know him today is largely the product of his work over the last century or so.
A horse of the Irish country-side, the Irish Draught lived in close quarters with the farming family, and served as a more versatile horse than the popular European heavy horse.
The Irish Draught would work the farm during the week, pull a trap in style to church on Sunday and yet be fast, reliable and athletic enough to take his farmer fox-hunting on Saturday.
Detailed Breed Description
- Height: Ideally Irish Draughts should stand between 158cms (15.2hh) and a maximum of 170cms (16.3hh) at maturity.
- Bone: Approximately 23cms (9 inches) of strong, clean, flat bone.
- Head: Should be pleasant, not coarse or hatchet like with plenty of room between the jaw bones.Wide forehead and kind eyes, set well apart, and with large quality ears.
- Neck: Good length of rein with head well set on, neck should be correctly muscled and well shaped.
- Front Legs: Long muscular forearms, short cannon bones with plenty of strong clean, flat bone,not back at the knee or tied in below the knee. Pasterns should be in proportion with good hoof pastern axis. Hooves should be of equal size, hard and sound with plenty of room at the heel. They should not be boxy, over large or flat.
- Shoulders: A sloping shoulder neither loaded, nor too heavy, nor too short, with well defined withers well set back.
- Body, back and hindquarters: Deep girth with a good spring of rib, strong back, loins and quarters. The croup and buttocks should be long and gently sloping. Hips should not be too wide.
- Hind Legs: Strong gaskins, well shaped clean hocks set into short shins. Should not be cowhocked or wide apart at the hocks
- Action: Should be straight and free not heavy or ponderous.Movement should be active and strong, showing good flexion of joints and freedom of the shoulders.
- Colour: Any strong whole colour including bay, grey, chestnut, black, brown and dun. Excessive white markings are not desirable.