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Tell me about Irish horses...

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  • Tell me about Irish horses...

    I was at a show a couple years back and saw a horse that was the exact type I would like for my next horse. The trainer was standing ringside and I complimented the horse and she told me they had got him in Ireland.

    He was big, warmblood built but light on his feet, incredibly calm and kind and honest and pretty fancy! Purchase is a looooong way off but I wanted to start researching and honing in on what I'll be looking for. This horse will be my last horse that I will probably be doing any jumping or showing with... and I want it to be the perfect horse for me.

    I have since noticed that people are always remarking on the ISH and Irish Draughts and how wonderfully calm and sensible and generous they are. I've never really had a chance to get to know any Irish horses.

    What can you tell me about them? Are there specific lines that are known for being quiet, brave and kind? Websites that would be helpful to someone who knows nothing about the breed(s)?

    2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com

  • #2
    Well, I have (egads) five. The matriarch of the bunch is by Kildalton Gold, I do not know if she is typical of his progeny but she is very quiet, brave, and forgiving. She DOES have typical Irish Draught "hardheadedness" ("I don't wanna and you can't MAKE me"). Her offspring (I have four here, ages 3 mos, 4, 5, and 7, and one (3 yo) is at a hunter barn where hubby and I shoe so I can keep tabs on him) have all been pretty easy, the key seems to be nipping that hardheadness in the bud. Once they have your number, it is hard to shake their confidence in their superiority! But if you get hold of them right away they're like "Oh, alright, you're the boss". For example: The 3 month old got to be a bit of a handful b/c I busted my shoulder right after he was born.... but when I healed up and busted his butt (he actually fell down while plunging about in protest of having his feet handled, and I pinned his head to the ground and held him down for a few minutes so he could reconsider the advisability of that course of action) he straightened out immediately and is now a model baby. :-)

    Third Charm Event Team


    • Original Poster

      Hehehe ThirdCharm... that reminds me of this pony we had boarded here who was the spawn of satan. One day he decided to pitch a fit while having his feet trimmed and he literally threw himself on the ground like a child throwing a tantrum! He was okay but he scared himself enough to behave for the next few minutes anyways

      The Irish horse I saw at the show was 6 years old. It looked like he had read the course map himself. Owner/rider was not yanking or kicking but just swimming around all over his back and neck surfing over the jumps. Horse never wavered. She'd give him minimal steering in between the jumps whilst trying to right herself and he'd be like, "Oh THAT line.. Ok Mum, here we go dum de dum de dum"...

      Now I'm not a mounted swimmer but I'll be looking for this next horse to just plain ENJOY myself in my 40's/50's... I already have 3 blown discs and a 4th bad one and a bunch of other crap wrong with my back/joints/muscles.

      I just loved this horses attitude and I'd like one just like him if I can still ride in 10 years. I'm hoping so, but I won't be in a position to put up with any antics and I'd like a horse who if I make a minor error, could save my bacon and be happy doing it. I won't be doing anything very big or serious.

      I guess I was wondering if that type of personality is somewhat typical of the breeding... or if he's an anomaly. I know they are all individuals but there are some traits that seem to be more usually found in certain breeds.
      2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


      • #4

        Also look for the thread about the Irish Draught/Sport Horse show being held at Denny Emerson's place over Labor Day weekend. That would be a great place to go and see for yourself.
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Love, love, love the Irish brain! That being said they have a wide range of personalities, so choose carefully. My retired advanced guy was Irish Draught, quite heavily bred but looked much lighter. He was not an easy ride, hell he is 16 not and is still not an easy ride! He was a bit hot to the fences, over achiever so quite anxious, and had one hell of a spook when he wanted to. That being said he also let my trainer (who is in a wheelchair) hack him out just a little over a year ago. Besides the eye bulging while getting her on and off he was great. Definately not an amatuer ride though, and I truly think had we not gotten him and somebody that couldn't deal with him had, he would have ended up in a very bad place.

          Now I have a young'ish (coming 7 year old), ISH by Pallas Digion. He is most commonly described as "explosive". He is much calmer then Tango overall, but has a bit more fight, and a lot of silly energy. He will go through an hour dressage lesson like a pro, then scoot and buck out the gate, or run sideways across the arena just because he can. He has a HUGE spin, leap, buck that comes out of nowhere, and has been known to buck people off just because he can. However, the work ethic is amazing, and he will jump any fence from any distance, no questions asked and is quite fancy! I have heard that the Pallas horses tend to have a bit of spunk though so it may just be that line. We have a 2 month out of Pallas now as well and she is looking to be a carbon copy of her big brother, huge bucks and all.


          • #6
            I'm going to go a bit with what ThirdCharm said--they CAN be lovely, model citizens, and display what you saw at the show. They also can be, um, different.

            I've worked with a lot of Irish horses, and I like them. Truly I do. But I have never had one that didn't have some kind of quirk or challenge to them--and hardheaded is a very good word. They definitely need to understand very early on where they stand on the food chain, and the answer better be, not near the top. The quirks can run the gamut from not so serious (I'd rather die than have you clip my ears) to more serious (two people have to hold me while I'm being mounted, but then I'm fine). That flipside of that inherent quietness which is in so many ways ideal for an ammy rider is nappiness. I don't want to (insert activity here) so I'm going to plant my feet or go backwards rather than do it. Honestly, both in my own business, and in two BN barns I worked in previously, the most successful Ammy/Irish combinations were those whose horse got a weekly (or more often) tune-up from the trainer. Not big fights per se, just a bit of, "I put my leg on on and you didn't respond so you got smacked with the whip IMMEDIATELY." I put my leg on again and you sprang forward, good boy."

            I have an ammy client with one now. He's a bit spoiled (didn't start with her) and the tune ups are definately important. The good side of him is that he isn't spooky, he's very sweet and friendly, and he will jump anything he even remotely thinks you are pointing him at. However, if she rides him exclusively for too long he will start charging a bit at the fences pointed towards the barn (which he knows makes her freeze up, panic, and do nothing) and he'll get heavy and dull on the flat. One or two trainer rides a week and he's an angel for his momma. He's not horrid to her, but she's small and timid, and he's got her number a bit. We just remind him of his purpose in life.

            FWIW, I've seen several Irish imports with some sort of mounting issue, not sure why, but I'd say I've seen at least 10+ over the years from there that do not have appropriate mounting behavior. Not seen that really with domestic breds.

            As with any horse, the start they got in life, and their individual personalities make a huge difference in the end product. If you are buying young, then be sure to have a skilled person available to start the kid right and buy from a proven breeder. If you are buying an older horse, take a trainer, try the horse several times, and any behavior you are unsure of, imagine it magnified 10x and decide if you can handle it. (My favorite question when shopping for clients is "What is the worse thing this horse has ever done?")

            FWIW, my personal choices for an ammy depending on their size would be a nice Appendix QH or an old fashioned G-line Hanoverian. But I like the Irish horses a lot too, and know they can be very successful so would certainly have them on my type list.
            Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
            Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
            Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com


            • #7
              My irish draught is sooooo nice, calm and sensible. It is a trait the breed is known for. Although there are some 'Jerks' in every crowd, most IDs have calm, take care of you -type temperments.
              There are some lines that are famous for passing on great temperment. One would be Mountain Pearl.
              www.solutionfactor.com was Mountain Pearl website.

              When I saw Foxglen Himself I was amazed by such a quiet well mannered stallion. With such presence too!

              My filly is by Glenlara. I cant say enough great things about her. she is a natural born jumper-she's rather jump than go around. Plus she is sweet. I think she had a great upbringing<which matters with any breed>



              • #8
                I love mine! She is a sweet heart and more generous than anything I have ever ridden in my life, and a really talented and brave jumper. I bought her out of my trainer's field at the age of 3. She is 6 now and going very well and very consistently at Novice, with a few unrecog. Trainings under her belt. I brought her along myself (with help during weekly lessons), so she is proof that it can be done (for the most part) by an amateur!

                Sometimes they have a good buck in them and they can be somewhat spooky, but of all of the Irish horses that I've known, I can only think of 1 that wasn't suitable for an amateur.

                Remember that, at some point, poor training and/or riding will take their toll with the vast majority of horses, no matter how kind and brave they are naturally. And then there are the odd ducks that just don't work out for whatever reason. I personally think that's true, regardless of breed.
                Treat Jockey for Spellbound and Smidgeon


                • #9
                  I agree w/Tango and Phoenix Farm (Absolutely agree w/ the old G-line Han. or App QH). We have 2 Irish boys and they each have big "personalities". Both are used for fox hunting, one showing some ability to event. Both of these horses are REALLY good for mounting/unmounting, loading/unloading they just have to be, and those lessons have been learned. One, currently the first flight fieldmaster's horse is coming into himself at 9. He still has his moments when he will shut down and I think you could actually hurt him and he's not going.You see his expression start to change and you need to change the subject, because there is no "winning" a fight. We gave up on the idea of eventing him years ago, but when following hounds he goes and does w/out incident. He has to be reminded every time you are on the end of the lead who is in charge. It's little things, oral; chewing on the halter, the lead, your arm - NIP HIM IN THE BUD at first thought of challenge. He will try to lead you, check you w/ his shouder, get you to move your feet. You just approach him w/ I'm in charge AGAIN and then he will fall right in line. The other is a bit "bawkey" when leaving the group. I use him as a whipper-in's horse, so we come and go from the group. I tried kindness the first time and he thought "huh - a negotiation". So, the second time it happened, when he didn't respond appropriately to leg, he got the hunt whip (in a wad) to the rump. He still stutter steps with the "I don't want to leave" on occasion and a tap, tap of the leg, rarely I'll raise my whip and he goes on. The very cool thing about this horse is he will go anywhere you point him otherwise. He is a trooper. Very lite on his feet w/ a good work ethic. He is a big boy, but has stamina, heart and, so far, no bottom. He's grey, which is tough to keep clean here in the carolina clay, but I wouldn't trade him for the world. With most all horses there are trade offs. Very, very few are "perfect". I like Irish and would purchase one again, but buy the horse not the breed.


                  • #10
                    I have known several Irish boys over the years as one of my good friends imports them from time to time. All the guys I have see her bring over are super talented and great rides. Most go on to be wonderful Ammy or YR mounts. I would take just about any of them for myself!

                    ~ Jus Passed My Zipper aka Spanky, 11yo QH gelding.
                    ~ Muskogee, 2yo Oldenburg Colt.


                    • #11
                      I've had 2 ISH. The one I sold was a darling, had a bit of a spook to him, well, maybe not so much a spook as, I'm not sure I want to go that way.
                      If he got away with it one day, he's try it every day for the next week. Once he got a spanking from Mom, I wouldn't have a problem until someone else rode him and he'd try it again.

                      The thing I love the most about the breed is that they really want to try for you. They want to know they had "done good".
                      They're very sensitive emotionally.
                      Paddy is a very big guy, but just a mouse to work with and had been really roughed up when I got him. He was so timid you couldn't even look him in the eye - he couldn't take the pressure. Brave as a lion cross country but intimidated by people.

                      There's lots of farms breeding ISH and RID in the US, but personally, I think it's the way they're started overseas that makes the difference.


                      • #12

                        Originally posted by PhoenixFarm View Post

                        I've worked with a lot of Irish horses, and I like them. Truly I do. But I have never had one that didn't have some kind of quirk or challenge to them--and hardheaded is a very good word.
                        Submission is not their strong suit. That works against you, of course, but the flip side is, you usually get bold. My personal theory is that they evolved as the biggest things in Ireland. If there were ever lions or tigers or bears or whatnot on the Emerald Isle, well, it was a long time ago, and many generations of IDs have been afraid of nothing because they could go pretty much where they pleased.

                        I currently have 4 (was up to 7 a while back) full Irish Draughts. Each one is different, but in general, they are observant, level-headed types. I do see a great deal of attentiveness to their surroundings, but generally, any "spook" is a stop/startle rather than a "leave town" mode. Most are generous and interactive, but not all. You can get nappy pony personality, only bigger.

                        Folks who see my guy sleeping at the stadium ingate rave about him, but that's not how he is all the time, and especially now that he knows the XC game. There's a lot of pulling power in those genes, and I gotta concur with whoever noted earlier that Irish horses can have a tendency to charge the jumps (must be all those cavalry ancestors). We're working on listening and politeness and "waiting" before hunting ramps up, and yes, regular professional input is involved.

                        All that said, I've only encountered one who had a hot-headed, fearful, explosive temperament. And she was downright dangerous when she didn't want to play whatever game the humans came up with. With all my other youngsters, bathing, trailer training, backing, introducing tiny jumps and open spaces and trail challenges has all been very straightforward, even surprisingly easy. They do seem to be quick learners.

                        If they can't go over it, they'll go through it.
                        They'll conserve energy to the point of laziness if they're not interested -- until you are doing something THEY like to do.
                        They'll try their heart out for you over hill and dale, and do have a stong sense of self-preservation, which comes in handy.
                        Do not try to come between IDs and their food.

                        I think they are great horses. But they don't come that way from the factory. Some assembly required.
                        <<Reste sur le cheval.>>


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
                          FWIW, I've seen several Irish imports with some sort of mounting issue, not sure why, but I'd say I've seen at least 10+ over the years from there that do not have appropriate mounting behavior. Not seen that really with domestic breds.
                          I think you are onto something here! Tango (imported in '99 always at a top show jumper, being ridden by an Olympic eventer, so training was not the issue!) had big mounting issues. I wondered why when I tried him I had to get a leg up. Well found that out when he got home! I think I got dumped everyday for a solid 2 weeks. Could not get on him from the ground (10 years later that is still negotiable, but generally you can if you don't let your toe touch his elbow), he would stand by the mounting block, but the second your foot was in the stirrup, no good. We spent alot of time with 2 people holding him and me getting on, then 1 person and me, then finally I could get on by myself. It took around 8 months for me to just walk him to the block and get on, it still pops up from time to time but not nearly so dramatic.

                          Owen couldn't care less. Climb on from the block, ground, leg up, stands like a brick! I wonder if that was because he was broke in by a cowboy though, he does work cattle pretty darn well too!

                          Here is a picture of Tango, in all his "specialness" he truely was my once in a lifetime horse, and I will never find something I got along with as well as him. (Also just FYI yes he is full Irish Draught. 7/8 draft in that guy, apparently that 1/8 TB really kicked in!) http://www.idhsgb.com/web/mediagalle...71006195528617


                          • #14
                            The Irish mare I am riding now I broke myself, and I got her from the breeder, whom I know well. There is no possibility she even had a saddle or bridle on prior to her arriving here - yet when I rode her for the first time, she was awesome. As though she knew what to do. There is no beating that temperament! They may have some flaws in conformation or movement but you cannot go wrong with the better Irish bred horses. I've had several to sell and all have been nice to work with.
                            Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                            Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks everyone, this has been informative and given me a better general idea of the temperament and characteristics of the breed. I know I'll be shopping for an individual and not a breed, but it's nice to get a better general idea being that I haven't really gotten to know any.

                              2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                              • #16
                                Agreed with the "plant feet and forget it" aspect.... I have had to jump all over three of the six I've had, all of whom had convinced someone else that they didn't have to go forward if they didn't want to! But again, once they are convinced you are bigger and badder than they are, they are great.

                                Neck surfing! Haha. Yeah they tend to be very forgiving of rider gymnastics as long as they don't doubt that you are in charge.

                                Third Charm Event Team


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by EmmyTheHemi View Post
                                  Submission is not their strong suit.
                                  They'll conserve energy to the point of laziness if they're not interested -- until you are doing something THEY like to do.
                                  They'll try their heart out for you over hill and dale, and do have a stong sense of self-preservation, which comes in handy.
                                  Do not try to come between IDs and their food.

                                  I think they are great horses. But they don't come that way from the factory. Some assembly required.
                                  I agree! My big guy is a total slug unless we're at a clinic & doing something fun. Competitions - sometimes fun (xc), usually dull (dressage). Generally, his demeanor is one of ' the world is out to get me', and will spook at everything, and will bolt while spooking if his rider is inexperienced (which I was when I first got him, but now I'm onto him...) Far from the big brave Irish eventer I was hoping I'd bought, but I've had him 7 years, & he's taught me a tremendous amount, and I do adore him, despite his quirks.
                                  When I was shopping for horses in Ireland, a charming, wise old Irish horseman summed it up for me. He said (in thick, Irish brogue) " The continental horse, you have to think for him. But the Irish horse, he thinks for himself!" So true.
                                  Definately get yourself up to the Irish draught fair at Denny's over labor day. It should be very educational for you!
                                  Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe


                                  • #18
                                    I love the Irish horses!!!!

                                    I absolutely adore my Irish guy!! I think they have the absolute funniest personalities. Mine can be incredibly stubborn, but he more than makes up for it in athletic ability and sheer heart.

                                    Several people have mentioned the variety you'll find within the Irish breed, and I completely agree. Several years ago I had a lovely ISH by Western Promise who was very "Irish". He was 16.1, big boned, nice mover, nice jumper. I just brought over a new Irish horse in January of last year, and he's a completely different sort. 17.2, leggy. He's registered ISH but is actually only half Irish. His dam was by Clover Hill so he had classic Irish breeding on his mother's side. His sire on the other hand was a Selle Francais from the Galoubet line who was approved by the Irish Horse Board. So basically you'll find all sorts of breeding in the ISH. Every single one that I've come across have been huge characters with personality and athleticism to spare. I personally think that they're some of the best jumpers in the world.


                                    • #19
                                      Hello everyone. Nice to meet you all.

                                      demande pret personnel


                                      • #20
                                        I'm in love!

                                        I just got my first one, and I'm in love, totally! I've had arabs, QH, trakehners, and TBs. He's certainly got the most personality of them all!

                                        He's sweet, playful, and loves people on the ground....

                                        And he's bold and will save my a** over fences, which is one of the reasons I got him. He's very forgiving, too. I try to ride him to the best of my ability, but I'm an ammie, and sometimes...well, I'm getting miles....!

                                        My only complaint, and someone mentioned this, is that he's bored when we do dressage, esp. if we practice in the ring (outside, he's much more interested). He becomes a slug, sucking back and generally getting more and more unresponsive. I'm trying to be consistent and ask, then reinforce, but I think he's got my number.

                                        I've NOT taken him to any competitions yet...so I'm not sure how that "dressage bores me" will bear out. If any of you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Maybe the "take him for a tune up" every month or so isn't a bad idea....
                                        --Becky in TX
                                        Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                                        She who throws dirt is losing ground.