History of the Irish Draught
The Irish Draught’s history lies as much in battle as it does in agriculture. Written in 1 BC, the “Cuchulian Saga” describes mighty chariothorses of Irish Draught type. In the twelfth century came the arrival, in Ireland, of the Anglo-Normons with their strong war horses.
Later, in th sixteenth century, trade between southern Ireland & Spain brought a strong mix of Spanish blood to the native horses. The Irish Draught has been exported in huge numbers into the armies of Europe since the Middle Ages. As recently as the first World War the Irish Draught served on the front lines in the thousands.
The hundred years from 1850-1950 probably did the most to shape the Irish Draught as we know it today. Agriculture in Ireland was mixed, with less demand for the heavy draft breeds popular in the rest of Europe. Instead, the Irish farmer needed a horse that could work the land but would also pull the dog cart to church at a smart trot and take the farmer fox hunting. The hunting farmer wanted a horse that would go all day and jump anything he faced.
Over a century of selection has produced a very sound, sensible animal with good bone and substance, great stamina, and an uncanny jumping ability. It is these qualities that, when crossed with the thoroughbred, produced the world renowned Irish Hunter.
Unfortunately, this success as a foundation breed nearly led to the Irish Draught’s downfall. The decrease in farm mechanization and the worldwide demand for hunters and sport horses brought the breed to the brink of extinction. It was more profitable for the Irish farmer to supplement his living by breeding his good draught mare to a thoroughbred than to breed her to a purebred stallion. Even with the concerted efforts of the Irish Draught Horse Society, founded in 1976, the breed is considered endangered with barely 2,400 purebreds worldwide.
History of the Irish Draught Sport Horse
A complete package in its purest form, the Irish Draught must also be acknowledged for its potent and unparalleled contribution in the creation of the magical cross; the Irish Draught Sport Horse.
The even temperament, durability, and power of the Irish Draught, mixed with the speed and athleticism of the thoroughbred, create a potent mix which is well up to the demands of the modern day competition. World famous for its jumping and cross-country ability, this Irish Draught/TB cross is not only a top caliber international athlete, but can serve as a perfect novice mount, adeptly boosting the confidence of a lower level rider.
Although we have recently seen the introduction of crosses with other bloodlines such as top quality Warmbloods, Arabians. and Quarter horses, which are showing great promise, it is still the RIDxTB cross that has achieved world-wide status.
Cruising, Cagney, Eezy, El Campeon’s Ado Annie, Carling King, and Hopes are High are some of the shining stars of the Grand Prix circuit. Custom Made, Supreme Rock, Giltedge, Sialing, McKinlaigh, and Connaught have thrilled us in the eventing world.
This magical cross is referred to as the Irish Draught Sport Horse in North America and the Irish Sport Horse in Europe. While it may seem confusing, there is a reason for the difference in names.
The Irish Sport Horse is recognized by the Irish Horse Board as an animal of ANY breeding, which may or may not have Irish Draught blood in its pedigree. For example: an ArabxTB, TBxConnemara, pure TB or RIDxTB may ALL be classified as an Irish Sport Horse. In North America, only the cross with RID blood is classified as an Irish Draught Sport Horse.
It should be understood that the IDSH is not a special breed or a product of an “American” breeding program. It is just a new moniker aimed at educating the public about the Irish Draught blood that is so pevalent in many of the top performance animals.
Whether the cross is known as an Irish Draught Sport Horse, an Irish Sport Horse, or even as an Irish Hunter, if there is Irish Draught blood running in those veins, you have one great horse!
The Irish Draught Horse is an active short-legged powerful horse with substance and quality. It is neither as massive nor as heavily feathered as its name implies. It is proud of bearing, deep of girth, strong of back and quarters. Standing over a lot of ground it has exceptionally strong and sound constitution. It has an intelligent and gentle nature and is noted for its docility and sense.
The Irish Draught’s movement is smooth and free but without exaggeration, and not heavy or ponderous. They may be of any strong color, including grey. White legs above the knees or hocks are not desirable. Their bones should be good and strong. Stallions average size is approximately 15.3hh to 16.3hh. Mares average between 15.1hh and 16.1hh.
King of Diamonds RID (Errigal RID x Ruby RID) Foaled in 1962, this stallion is one of the pillars of performance Irish Draughts. When he died in 1991, he ranked 7th on the Irish Horse Board’s list of sires of successful show jumpers. He has over 40 approved sons who carry his legacy on today.
Clover Hill RID (Golden Beaker TB x a mare by Tara RID)-Foaled in 1973, this stallion is another pillar of performance Irish Draughts. From 1990-1995 he ranked 16th on the IHB’s list of sires of successful show jumpers. Today, his legacy continues through his sons and daughters who continue to be successful in the show jumping arena. Coille Mor Hill RID (Clover Hill RID x Lawrencetown Lassy RID) currently a Grade A show jumper, earning over 900 points in Irish competition. He is one of the leading sires for performance horses today.
Sea Crest RID (Knockboy RID x Sea Spray RID) A grade “A” show jumper, Sea Crest was a winner at all major shows throughout Ireland including 3rd in Millstreet Young Irelander, 2nd in the 4 Year Old Discovery Ireland. He has twenty five progeny eventing and show jumping at international level, including Cruising tenth in the world and the third leading stallion. Hoochi Koochi Spanish Team at the Atlanta Olympics and Spanish Champion. Nires Crest the Scandinavian Champion, Ladaka Burley 1996 – The Irish One – Burley 1996 – Mexican Wave – Wembley Working Hunter, and many others. Sea Crest has fifty four winners of sixty five classes and many placings at the R.D.S. horse show, (in show jumping, performance, and showing classes). Sea Crest’s off-spring are now performing throughout the world and are widely sought after.
Sir Rivie RID (Sea Crest RID x Ginger Anne RID by Ginger Dick RID) Sea Crest himself was a Grade A show jumper, and is most notable as the sire of the ISH stallion Cruising. Ginger Anne combines the blood of Ginger Dick (another Grade A showjumper) and King of Diamonds. Sir Rivie is currently a Grade A showjumper, earning over 380 points in Irish Competition, and is being looked at as a sire of performance horses for the future.
Ado Annie IDSH (Errigal Flight ISH x Coolrain Princess ISH) bred by Frances Sheeran, Glebe, Coolrain, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. This 1993 chestnut mare is well known in International Show Jumping competition. She was a World Cup competitor for the USA in 2003, with rider Will Simpson for El Campeon Farms. She was sold BACK to Ireland in 2005 and is now competing for Ireland.
Cruising IDSH (Sea Crest RID x Mullacrew ISH) – 1985 grey stallion bred and owned by Hartwell Stud, Co. Kildare, Ireland. This 1985 grey stallion has earned over 700 Show Jumping points, and is the sire of numerous Graded show jumpers worldwide. As of 1999, Cruising is ranked 8th among show jumpers world wide as reported by World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses.
Carling King IDSH (Clover Hill RID x Gortnageer Star ISH) 1991 chestnut gelding bred by Dr. PJ Geraghty, Co. Galway, Ireland. Ridden by Kevin Babington. His notable performances are: 8th at the 2002 World Equestrian Games; 4th individually at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, along with multiple international Nations Cup winnings in 2003 and being crowned the 2001 Samsung Nation’s Cup leading horse.
Free and Clear IDSH (Mountian Pearl RID x Rare One TB) bred by Pairadox Farm of Ontario, Canada. This 2000 bay gelding Ridden by Phillip Dutton, took the title in the five-year-old division of the 2005 USEA/Spalding Labs Young Event Horse Series Championships with a score of 85.3.
McKinlaigh IDSH (Highland King ISH x Kilcumney Hostess ISH) bred by Y. Walsh and owned by Gina Miles and Thom Schulz. This 1994 liver chestnut gelding is a multiple CCI*** event winner with recent wins including Rebbecca Farm CCI*** and ROLEX.
Kiko IDSH (Welcome Diamond RID x Moorpark Mystery Date by Moorpark Boy RID) represented the U.S. Team for the 2014 FEI World Para Equestrian Driving Championships for Singles. Kiko, who is registered with IDHSNA, was purchased in utero in Ireland by Wendy Ying and was foaled in northern Virginia. Kiko was was driven in the 2014 FEI World Para Equestrian Driving Championships by her owner and life-time IDHSNA member Virginia (Boo) Fitch of Penhook, VA. The US team won the bronze medal.