Diversity Changes of the Irish Draught Horse during Breed Development
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The Irish Draught is an animal that is deeply entrenched in the history of Ireland. From its original use as all purpose animal on the farm to the modern horse we see today, the Irish Draught has earned its right to be protected and bred long into the future. As we have already discussed though the breed has had its difficulties, it has prevailed through its turbulent past. With the new methods of inspection, stricter inspection processing for stallions and a new classification style for mares and stallions breeders can now look forward to making the most informed and best breeding decisions regarding their horses into the future. However, I believe further systems must be put in place if the Irish Draught is to have a future. With such a small gene pool and the Irish Draughts questionable ability to compete with other breeds at the top level of all equestrian competition leaves this breed in jeopardy. The “jack of all trades” aspect of the breed that served it well when it was a farm horse is in fact detrimental to its survival into the future. It is this inability to compete with more athletic breeds that cause it to be viewed by many only as a foundation breed for the further development of the ISH. Ideally there should be further research done into indentifying future markets for the sale of pure bred Irish Draught foals. Currently breeders receive only a fraction of the income from breeding pure bred animals that they could potentially achieve than if they were to cross their Irish Draught mares with more athletic breeds. This is a worrying trend one that must be reversed sooner rather than later and can only be achieve by showing breeders a market for their animals in which they will receive equal prices for their pure bred foals and not have to resort to breeding half-bred animals. New emerging markets, (such as China and other Asian countries), should be explored are possible areas of expansion for the breed into the future.