The Irish Draught horse is the national horse breed of Ireland which developed primarily for farm use. Today, they are especially popular for crossing with Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, producing the popular Irish Sport Horses (also called Irish Draught Sport Horses) which excel at the highest levels of eventing and show jumping.
Irish Draughts are commonly crossbred with Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods to produce high-quality sport horses. This cross is termed the Irish Sport Horse (or Irish Draught Sport Horse in the US). Demand for the Irish Sport Horse has led to a thriving export of horses for use in competition. The purebred Irish Draught is also popular in eventing, showing and as a hunter, as well as police mounts due to their temperament and strength.
It is the Irish Draught’s popularity as a foundation animal for the production of sport horses that has put the breed at risk a second time. Many Irish Draught mares never produce a purebred replacement for the herd. Aggressive selection for show jumping characteristics has degraded the foundation stock, and inbreeding to a few popular performance bloodlines has further endangered the genetic diversity of the breed. The Irish Draught is considered an “endangered maintained” breed by the Food and Agriculture Committee of the United Nations. In 2009, the breed was upgraded to the “Watch” category on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s Rare Breed Conservation Priority List. The Irish Draught Horse Society of Ireland, with support from the Royal Dublin Society and technical assistance from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, have spearheaded research into a breeding plan to improve genetic diversity, and to maintain the traditional breed traits that are the defining characteristics of the Irish Draught breed.
Other names: Irish Draught — Irish Draught Sport Horse — capall tarraingthe Éireannach
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