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6 Irish Horse Breeds (with Pictures)

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Ireland is home to several different breeds of beautiful horses — six, to be exact. They are all unique, yet they have a few things in common, mostly due to their origins. The Irish are producers of horses for working, riding, racing, driving, and showing. Irish horses are lucky because they get to travel through some of the most gorgeous lands and forests on the planet. Let’s learn about each of Ireland’s six prized horse breeds.

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1. The Connemara Pony

Connemara Pony
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

These ponies are from Ireland’s west coast, where they are well known for being strong, courageous, and even-tempered. They come in a variety of colors, including grey, chestnut, Palamino, brown, and bay. They have long necks, muscular backs, and big, alert eyes. The Connemara pony is bred to master harsh terrains and live off scarce foraging options. These are interactive ponies that enjoy spending time with human companions.

2. The Irish Hobby


This horse was developed in the 13th century, but unfortunately, it is now extinct. They are thought to have been used to develop other Irish horse breeds, such as the Irish Draught horse. These horses were on the smaller side, but their size did not take away from their brute strength and high intelligence levels. The Irish Hobby’s genes are found in today’s thoroughbred horses; many think that this was by design due to their swiftness.

3. The Irish Draught

Irish Draught
Image Credit: Mike, Flickr

This is Ireland’s official national horse. The Irish Draught was originally bred to work on the farm, but their athletic stature makes them popular as sports horses today. These horses are commonly crossbred with thoroughbreds due to their strong body and ability to easily train. These are adaptive horses that can handle many different types of terrains and weather conditions. They are such prized horses in Ireland that the Draught Horse Society was created in the 1970s to help preserve them.

4. The Irish Sport

Irish Sport
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Irish Sport horse came about as the result of breeding Irish Draughts and Thoroughbreds together. They are awesome at jumping, showing, and racing. They tend to dominate in competitions. The Irish Sport has a great deal of stamina and is known for being a smooth galloper. They love giving humans rides and respond well to training, making them a good all-around horse for work and companionship.

5. The Kerry Bog Pony

It is thought that the Kerry Bog pony is a descendant of the Irish Hobby horse. They used to live wild in the southwest areas of Ireland, but humans started breeding them in captivity so they could be used to haul goods and help on the farmlands. The Kerry Bog Pony is small yet hardy and can hold up well in tough environments. The Kerry Bog pony has been exported to the United States, where it has been used to create an American breed. These animals can grow up to 48 inches tall when they are fully mature.

6. The Gypsy Vanner

Gypsy Vanner Horses
Image Credit: Pixabay

These are one of the most notable Irish horse breeds because of their finely feathered coats and big, bright eyes. These horses have gorgeous long manes, svelte bodies, huge feet, and thick necks. They were originally bred to drive wagons and caravans, but today, they are popular as pets and riding horses. The Gypsy Vanner is a gentle giant that gets along well with children and offers a smooth ride, which is perfect for beginners.


Final Thoughts

Irish horse breeds are beautiful, graceful, and hard workers. Some are on the small side, while others are huge. They all are intelligent and easily trainable. But their small differences make them each unique in their own ways. Sadly, some are extinct and others are endangered. But most of these interesting horse breeds are just as popular today as they always have been. Which Irish horse breed is the most interesting to you? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.