🐎 The Irish Draught Horse Breed

Breed Description

A native horse of Ireland, and a very rare breed in the world today, the Irish Draught (pronounced β€˜draft’) is NOT a heavy horse as it’s name may imply.

Over a century of selection has produced a warmblooded breed with good bone, substance and quality and a movement that is light, smooth and free, without exaggeration; nor heavy and ponderous.

Standing over a lot of ground, the Draught has an exceptionally strong and sound constitution, great stamina and an uncanny jumping ability. In addition, this breed possesses a fabulous temperament made up of willingness, intelligence, docility and common sense. Not only is the Irish Draught a perfect companion mount for riders of all ages, but it possesses the ability and versatility to participate at various levels of jumping, eventing, hunting, dressage and driving events. A complete package in it’s purist form, the Irish Draught must also be acknowledged for it’s 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, creates a potent mix which is well up to the demands of 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. Custom Made, GiltEdge, Moon Man, Cruising, Cagney, Hopes are High, Carling King, Ado Annie, and Special Envoy are but a few examples of internationally successful Irish (Draught) Sport Horses.

Average Height

  • Stallions: approx. 15.3hh to 16.3hh.
  • Mares: approx. 15.1hh to 16.1hh.


Any strong whole color, with greys being prevalent. White legs, above the knees or hocks, not desirable; Spotted/pinto/paintmarked horses not permissable.


  • Bone: Good, strong, clean bone. (Minimum of 9” bone)
  • Head: Good, large, bold eyes, set well apart, long, well-set ears, wide of forehead. Head should be generous and pleasant, not coarse or hatchet-headed, though a slight roman nose is permissible. The jaw bones should have enough room to take the gullet and allow ease of breathing.
  • Shoulders, Neck and Front: Shoulders should be clean-cut and not loaded, withers well-defined, not coarse; the neck set in high and carried proudly. The chest should not be too broad and beefy, the forearms should be long and muscular, not caught in at the elbows, the knee large and generous, set near the ground; the cannon bone straight and short, with plenty of flat, clean bone, never back of the knee (calf kneed). The bone must not be round or coarse. The legs should be clean and hard, with a little hair permissible at the back of the fetlock, as a necessary protection; the pasterns strong and in proportion, not short and upright nor too long and weak. The hoof should be generous and sound, not boxy or contracted and with plenty of room at the heel.
  • Back, Hindquarters, Body and Hind Legs: The back to be powerful, the girth very deep, the loins must not be weak but the mares must have enough room to carry a foal. The croup to buttocks to be long and sloping, not short and rounded or flat-topped; thighs strong and powerful and at least as wide from the back view as the hips; the second thighs long and well developed; the hocks near the ground and generous, points straight; they should not be out behind the horse but should be in line from the back of the quarters to the heel to the ground, and should not be overbent or in any way weak. The cannon bone etc. as for the foreleg, short and strong.
  • Action: Smooth and free but without exaggeration and not heavy nor ponderous. Walk and trot to be straight and true with good flexion of the hocks and freedom of the shoulders.


The Irish Draught has an incredible temperament. Extremely people orientated, it is sensible, intelligent, willing and brave.

Members of this breed often excel in the following disciplines:

  • Field Hunter
  • Show Jumping
  • Eventing

Breed History

The Irish Draught is a breed whose ancient history lies as much in battle as it does in agriculture.

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. .

Miscellaneous Facts

The WSBF has two purebred Registered Irish Draughts ranked in the top ten of Significant Sires of Showjumpers. Considering that there are less than 2,000 purebred Irish Draughts in the world today, this is a very strong statement of the breed’s athletic a