THE IRISH DRAUGHT
Some people believe that the Irish Draught Horse has its origins in Ireland as early as the Christian Era, when Irish Draught type horses were described in Ireland's Cuchulain Saga. When William the Conqueror invaded Great Britain in 1066, his war horses looked similar to the Irish Draught, and in the 1500s, when there was a brief alliance between Spain and England through the ill-fated marriage of Catherine of Aragon and Henry the VIII and later the marriage of Henry's half-Spanish daughter, Queen Mary, to King Philip of Spain, imported Spanish horses came to be used on the native Irish draft horses.
Like so many other breeds that originated for farming needs, the Irish Draught had to be an all-purpose steed that carried the family to church and participated in an occasional fox-hunt--tough, smart, and stylish all in one package. This sound, substantial, sensible animal with the wonderful ability to jump, was half of the cross that comprised the Irish Hunter, now known as the Irish Sport Horse. The Irish Draught typically ranges from 15.1 to 16.3 hands.
Like so many of the breeds discussed earlier, the Irish Draught has been nearly on the brink of extinction during difficult times for Irish farmers. During these times farmers could not afford to register their purebred Irish Draughts so that they became lost to history. Even today the Irish Draught Registry consists of only 2000 purebreds in the entire world as professional riders look for Draught crosses without being concerned about breeding or registering purebreds.