The Irish Sport Horse (ISH) (US: Irish Draught Sports Horse), also known as the Irish Hunter, is mainly the result of a cross between the Irish Draught and the Thoroughbred. It has been given recognition as a separate breed. It is commonly bred from parents who are also Irish Sport Horses, in addition to being bred from the definitive parent breeds.
The Irish Sport Horse is traditionally used for all purposes, from transportation to riding, and working the land. However, it is becoming increasingly popular as a competition riding horse. Its natural athletic ability and exceptional jumping talents means that it excels in the show jumping arena, as well as competing at the highest levels of eventing. The horse is globally renowned for being one of the best fox hunting mounts, and the Irish Sport Horse studbook regularly tops the rankings for eventing.
I want you all to know this because in just six days the Olympic games will come to us from London. The top seeded horse in jumping is an Irish Sport Horse, named Flexible, ridden by Rich Fellers. Fellers said he saw this horse in Ireland as a six-year old with an amazing amount of jump and knew he would be something special. Fellers and Flexible are not the usual US champs. I did not know their names at this time last year. But they have earned their spot on the US Team through hard work and winning, arguably, the top jumping contest in the world outside the Olympics, the FEI Rolex World Cup. Here is a link to that amazing ride-
Go to the bottom right and look for Rich Fellers-Rolex. It is breathtaking. If you have never watched this before, the fastest horse wins. But you have to be careful and quick and there are times in this video when Flexible just barely skates over the fences. The whole medal ceremony is pretty amazing too-makes you proud to be an American especially since it has been 25 long years since the US has won the World Cup!
Add to this little Cinderella story, that Flexible will be one of the oldest horses (16 years old) and one of the smallest (just 16 hands) to compete at this year’s Olympics and it just adds to tale of the Irish Sport Horse. Fellers, when interviewed, said they did not do a lot special things for this horse, fed him Purnia Omelene 200, did a lot of flat work and jumped some as it got close to competition time.
Fellers is facing his first Olympics at age 52. Certainly, a daunting and dangerous sport, to jump obstacles over five feet high with incredible speed, certainly more a young person’s sport than someone who is 52. Our other US riders, two women and one man, are going to be right there with Fellers running for the Gold Medals. I wish well to all of them. But I got to tell you my heart is with this little Irish Sport Horse and this handsome man as they head to the Olympic show ring. I will keep you posted.