Nicknamed the “Emerald Isle”, Ireland is quite the place to visit. You’ll be astounded by the lush green landscape interspersed with castles and ruins from ancient times. This island has so much beauty and adventure to offer, which is why it’s the perfect destination for a horseback riding tour.

Horse Tours Club provides fantastic riding vacations in Ireland where you can truly experience the countryside.

Irish Equestrian History and Culture

Horses have been in Ireland for a long time. It’s believed they migrated from Asia, across Europe, and into Ireland before Ireland broke off from the mainland more than 10,000 years ago.

The people who lived in the area domesticated horses thousands of years ago; remains found throughout the country suggest before 2000 B.C. Tales and myths from the past include men riding horse-drawn chariots, Celtic horse goddesses, and a creature known as a Pooka, which often disguises itself as a large, white horse.

In one such tale, a man brags that his wife can run faster than the king’s horses. Graciously, the king offers to allow the woman to race instead of executing the man. The pregnant woman is met with heckling as she prepares to race, but when the race begins she runs faster than the horses, finishing before the steeds get halfway. After finishing, the woman calmly gives birth to twins, and the bet is revealed as a setup. The woman turns out to be the Irish goddess of horses, Macha.

As evidenced by their history and folklore, horses were an important part of Irish history, and they continue to have an impact on Irish culture today. Breeding is one of Ireland’s foremost industries, and horse races are popular events.

Irish Breeds

The Connemara pony, the Irish draught horse, and the Irish Hunter are the most famous Irish horses.

Purely Irish in origin, the Connemara pony is the smallest of the pure Irish horse breeds. It originates from Galway. This breed is known for its reliability, surefootedness, and athleticism. It has a good disposition and a great love of food. Known today as a sports pony, this breed is versatile, able to compete in show jumping, dressage, and eventing, and it has the stamina for endurance riding.

The Irish Draught horse was developed primarily for farming, but today they are often crossed with Thoroughbreds and warmbloods and used as a sport horse. They excel at eventing and show jumping. The breed has a good temperament and a willing nature. The Irish Draught is considered a great foundation breed that will produce both leisure and performance horses when it’s crossed with other breeds.

The Irish Hunter, also called the Irish Sport horse, is a cross between the Irish Draught and the Thoroughbred. It’s a warmblood sporting horse used for dressage, show jumping, and eventing. This breed has great speed, athleticism, and a well-balanced temperament. With about 2,000 purebreds in the world, the Irish Sport Horse is considered a rare breed.