Irish Draft


PetMD Editorial

Published Dec. 15, 2009

The Irish Draft is not your typical draft horse. It is lighter and moves more freely than its traditional counterparts. Although there are no finite records as to its origins, it is believed to have developed in Ireland around the 1700s. Today the Irish Draft is commonly used for draft work and riding.


Physical Characteristics


This draft horse has a rather broad profile. It is densely muscled with a well-defined bone structure. Its croup is not as prominent as the withers. The most common coat colors for the Irish Draft are bay and chestnut.


Personality and Temperament


Energetic and lively, the Irish Draft horse exhibits keen intelligence and is very easy to manage and control.


History and Background


The Irish Draft is not actually a horse breed in the strict sense. There is also no record of the sires and dams used to develop the breed or records of the breeding and crossbreeding activities. In fact, it has no association to ensure the purity of bloodlines. However, one thing is clear: the Irish Draft is native to Ireland. A result of natural selection, the Irish Draft probably evolved from the native horses from the Connemara region, which adapted to the environment and became larger and taller.


According to records, the Irish Draft horse was further developed in the 18th century by breeders who needed a heavier and larger pack horse that could also be used for riding and farm work. Farmers also interbred their local stock with heavier horses. These specimens were then crossed with the English Thoroughbred.


In the early 20th century, the development of the Irish Draft breed received government support. However, the breeding scheme was largely seen as a failure until World War I, when, it was found that the Irish Draft perfectly fit the requirements of the military for a fast and enduring horse. The number of Irish Draft horses began to increase and continued to do so until the mechanization of transportation.

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