The Irish Draught horse is the national horse of Ireland
The name Irish Draught may be misleading since the breed is
a lighter, more free moving animal than the traditional image
of the heavy draft horse. The Irish Draught is neither as
massive nor as heavily feathered as its name implies.
The breed has been in existence for at least a century or
more and originated from the Irish Hobby Horse which was a
small ambling horse that was similar to the primitive Garrano
and Sorraia horses of Northern Spain and Portugal. Clydesdale,
Thoroughbred and half bred sires were used on the local Draught
mares in the 1800's and early 1900's. Native Connemara Pony
was also added to form the breed known as the Irish Draught
Traditionally, the Irish Draught Horse was the farm horse
in Ireland and so it had to be versatile enough for use as
a hunter or ridden or cart pulling and plowing. It had to
be docile, strong and economical to keep. The traditional
winter feed for the Irish Draught Horse was young gorse put
through a chaff cutter, boiled turnips, and bran or meal of
some sort that could be spared from the cattle.
But even for all its usefulness, it has nearly gone extinct
on several occasions. During times of poverty and famine in
Irish history, many breeders gave up registering their animals
and hundreds of Irish Draughts were going to the slaughter
houses each week until there were very few left. The conservation
status of this equine is considered rare. However, today the
Irish Draught is more sought after for its breeding qualities
with other equines rather than with itself. In England, brood
mares are considered to be excellent dams for the Irish Sport
Horse when mated with a Thoroughbred stallion. Now the Irish
Draught stallion is being used more and more to get extra
bone and substance in the progeny of the lighter type mare.
The Irish Draught Horse Society of North America (IDHS NA)
was established in 1993 to assist in the conservation and
appreciation of the Irish Draught Horse and its successful
crossbred, the Irish Draught Sport Horse throughout the world.
The IDHS NA maintains the studbooks for qualified Irish Draught
and part Irish Draught horses in North America. On their website
can found information regarding the rarity of the breed. The
following is a direct quote from Report to The Irish Draught
Horse Society, Ireland prepared at the Animal Genomics Laboratory,
School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine,
College of Life Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield,
Dublin 4, Ireland; by Angela McGahern, Patrick Brophy, David
MacHugh & Emmeline Hill and released in February, 2006.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United
Nations classifies the Irish Draught (ID) horse as an endangered
breed due to the declining population size. Falling purebred
numbers, combined with a serious threat of genetic erosion,
suggest that the ID population is in urgent need of conservation.
Genetic diversity is an important component in the consideration
of conservation strategies and measures of genetic diversity
are becoming widely used in breed management systems. The
Irish Draught Horse Society must now identify and preserve
its rare bloodlines and explore the genetic resources available
to preserve the broadest possible genetic base.
In terms of physical characteristics, the Irish Draught Horse
stands between 15.1 and 16.3 hands. Any solid color is acceptable,
including grays, but white above the knees or hocks is not
desirable. The horse has a graceful head and a large kind
eye. The neck is set high and carried proudly, showing a good
length of rein.
The strong limbs have particularly short cannon bones and
despite the power, this equine is free moving and not ponderous.
The feet are like those of a hunter and not like those of
a cart horse. The feet are one of the horse's most important
features and they are the reason why the Irish Draught is
required for the breeding show jumpers the feet have to withstand
the concussion from jumping, often on hard surfaces.
The traveling action of the breed is smooth without exaggeration
and not heavy or ponderous. The walk and trot are straight
and true with good hock flexion and shoulder freedom.
It is hoped that the traditional Irish Draught Horse can
make a comeback. It has an intelligent and gentle nature and
is noted for its docility and common sense, and has a proud
bearing, as well as being an important ingredient in the creation
of the Irish Draught Sport Horse.
Author Resource:-> Crystal is a writer for http://www.HorseClicks.com,
classifieds of Irish Draught Horses for sale