Like its forbear the Irish Draught, the Irish Sport Horse is renowned for its capabilities in sporting and competition circuits. Lighter than the Irish Draught, the breed is held in high esteem amongst equestrians and is considered a top athlete and all-round competition horse.
Developed from crossing the spirited Thoroughbred with scope and speed, and the original Irish Draught with conformation and an easy disposition, the Irish Sport of today is a strong contender in the show ring, despite only being classed a ‘half-bred’ by some.
Naturally athletic, well balanced and adept at many sporting disciplines, the Irish Sport is suitable for both amateur and experienced riders, giving confidence through its sure-footed and steadfast gait. The Irish Sport was originally used in fox hunting due to its speed and enthusiasm, although since the sport has been done away with it can now be observed in leisure riding, show jumping and light draught work.
Typically 15-17 hands, the Irish Sport is characterised by a sculpted, muscular structure with well conformed legs and a strong head. All colours are permissible in the breed but skewbald and piebald types are rarely seen.
The Irish Sport is quite often referred to as the ‘Irish Hunter’ because of its early usage as a fox hunting horse.
My Irish Sport Horse gelding, Jasper, is quite the character around the barn. He is 16.1hh and the most stubborn, cheeky gelding I have ever come across! He is a friendly horse beneath it all and we have formed a very good relationship over time (it took two years).
He and I competed in show jumping up to 1.35m and affiliated up to foxhunting level. Sadly, Jasper was diagnosed with arthritis not the fetlock joints mid-2015 and is now just schooling elementary level dressage and going out for rides in the woods.
In my experience Irish Sports Horses can be incredible jumpers with lively personalities and naughty tendencies.
I always recommend this breed to confident individuals looking for some fun and a successful jumper.
Lively personality never get the same ride twice but then she is a mare. Moody at times
My boy 'Lordy' is 16h and 3/4 TB, 1/4 ID. We've been together for 20 years and I love him with all my heart. He is the most kind, gentle soul. I rode him throughout my pregnancy and and looked after me every step of the way. Not that he's particularly a novice ride even at 24 years old! He still hacks out and 'power walks', as "slow" has never been his strong suit. Blindingly fast in his younger days - owing to the majority of his breeding being TB.
In my experience, ISH's are very intelligent and extremely quick to learn. Naturally athletic, they can dominate in almost all disciplines. I'm sure I lucked-out with Lordy, as his temperament is is to die for, but I'd recommend an ISH to anyone 7 days a week and twice on Sundays. If you want a fast, athletic horse with a quick brain but a level, trainable temperament, this is the breed for you.