The Irish Horse, also known as the Irish Hunter, Irish Sports Horse or Irish Draught Sport Horse is the result of a cross between the Irish Draught Horse and the Thoroughbred. It has not yet been given recognition as a separate breed, but it is commonly bred from Irish Sport Horse parents, as well as being bred from crossing the definitive parent breeds.
In North America, this cross is called the Irish Draught Sport Horse and in Europe it is known as the Irish Sport Horse, and there is a reason for the difference in names.
The Irish Draught Sport Horse as recognized in North America by the Irish Draught Horse Society (IDHS-NA and IDHS-Can) is a crossbred animal with a portion of registered Irish Draught in the pedigree. Only the cross with a registered Irish Draught horse is classified as an Irish Draught Sport Horse.
The Irish Sport Horse as recognized by the Irish Horse Board (IHB) in Europe is a horse of any breeding which may or may not have any Irish Draught blood in its pedigree at all. As an example, an Arabian crossed with a Thoroughbred; a Thoroughbred crossed with a Connemara; a pure Thoroughbred or the Irish Draught and Thoroughbred combination may all be classified as being an Irish Sport Horse, even when there is no Irish Draught Horse blood in the animal at all. Ireland produces a large number of these Irish Sport Horses each year, many of them selling for high dollar amounts in the United States and Europe.
The Irish Draught Sport Horse is not a special breed, and it is not just a product of an American breeding program but rather it is just a new name to be used for educating the public about the Irish Draught Horse that is becoming so common in many of the top performance horses.
The Irish Horse is traditionally an all-purpose equine and has been used for transportation, riding and working the land. Its natural athletic ability and fantastic jumping talents means that it is becoming increasingly popular as a competition riding horse. It excels in the show jumping arena, as well as competing at the highest levels of eventing. The Irish Draught Sport Horse is globally renowned for being one of the best fox hunting mounts in the world and has a tremendous gallop with plenty of speed. While there have been other crossbred combination that are showing promise, it is still the Irish Draught Horse with Thoroughbred cross that has achieved world-wide recognition in the Grand Prix circuit and in the eventing world. This cross is not only a top caliber international athlete, but is a perfect novice mount that can boost the confidence of a lower level rider.
The Irish Draught Horse Society of North America was established in 1993 to assist in the conservation and appreciation of the Irish Draught Horse and its successful crossbred: Irish Draught Sport Horse throughout the world and it maintains the studbooks for qualified Irish Draught and part Irish Draught horses in North America.
With over a century of selection in shaping the original Irish Draught Horse, a very sound, sensible animal with good bone and substance, great stamina and an uncanny jumping ability was produced. It is these qualities that, when crossed with the Thoroughbred, produced the world renowned Irish Hunter that is now known as the Irish Draught Sport Horse.
The Irish Draught Sport Horse has the sense and honesty of the Irish Draught with an excellent temperament of calmness, yet lively when needed. This even temperament, durability and power of the Irish Draught when crossed with the speed and athleticism of the Thoroughbred creates a horse that can handle the demands of modern day competition. Some Connemara is also found in the pedigrees of some Irish mares.
The Irish Draught Sport Horse stands 15 to 17 hands high and comes in any color. It has a large attractive head with a convex or Roman nose profile and a slightly arched, muscular neck. The back is short and compact and the high withers of the Thoroughbred are sometimes seen.
Whether the cross is known as an Irish Draught Sport Horse or an Irish Sport Horse if there is Irish Draught in the pedigree, it’s likely to be a great horse.