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Official Studbook Category for Traditional Irish Horse

From 2017 all TIH foals registered in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook will have ‘Traditional Irish Horse Category ISH(TIH)’ referenced on their passports.  Their TIH status will also be published on IHR Online (formerly CapallOir) where breeders now have the facility to filter search results for TIH horses, making them easier to identify.

In order to be eligible for this TIH Category equines must meet the 4 definitions of a Traditional Irish Horse (TIH).

Breeders that have queries regarding the identification of TIH horses in the ISH Studbook can submit their query to the following email address:

1. Be registered in the Main Section of the Irish Sport Horse Studbook

2. Have only the following breeds recorded in their pedigree: Irish Sport Horse, Irish Draught, Thoroughbred, Connemara Pony.  Do not have any foreign ancestors recorded in their back pedigree

3. Have no unknown ancestors in the first two generations

4. All Irish Sport Horse ancestors from the second generation back with unknown/partial pedigree must have been born before 1982.

an old map of the world

1100 BC

The Celtic Horse/Hobby is bred by crossing stallions of the subspecies Equus Cabillus Pumpelli, shipped from the Eastern Mediterranean, with mares of the subspecies Equus Caballus Caballus, from the Iberian peninsula. This is the worlds' earliest known large-scale equine outcrossing experiment.

the front door at newgrange grave

700-500 BC

The Celtic Horse/Hobby arrives in Ireland and is crossed with native Irish horses; a superior breed, the Irish Hobby, is developed and used for racing and light military work.

an old cartoon of a horse and carriage

100 BC - 1700 AD

The Irish Hobby becomes world famous for its' speed and agility. It is exported worldwide and used to improve and found other breeds including the Thoroughbred.

a connemara pony in a wide open field grazing quietly on the irish coast

1700 - 1800

As the Irish Hobby becomes extinct, the Irish Hunter is developed using Irish Hobby, Irish Draught, Connemara Pony and Thoroughbred genetics.

an older man with a moustache, glasses and bowler hat at a horse racing event. The photo is black and white.


The sport of steeplechasing begins in Co. Cork. Hunt clubs start running Point-to-Point races in which their Irish Hunters compete.

an old piece of paper with writing


British equine expert William Youall visits Ireland and records the distinct characteristics of the Irish Hunter.


Showjumping is introduced at the RDS.

An Irish Hunter, Shane Rua wins, clearing the stone wall at 6' and selling for £1,000 the same day.


The Hunter Improvement Society is established in Britain and Irish Hunters are registered in its' studbook until 1922.


By now the best examples of the Irish Hunter (e.g. Sir Edward) can win top showing classes and also jump 7'.


Eventing becomes an Olympic sport and the Irish Hunter excels in this discipline.


The Golden Age of Irish Sport Horse breeding. The Irish Hunter becomes a world leader in showjumping and eventing and international buyers flock to Ireland to buy horses.


The Irish Sport Horse studbook is established to register the Irish Hunter which now becomes known as the Irish Sport Horse.


Progeny of foreign stallions crossed with Irish mares are registered in the Irish Sport Horse studbook. The separate identity, genotype and character of the traditional Irish sport horse is almost lost as the native breed is no longer recognised or managed as such by successive governing bodies.


The Traditional Irish Horse Association is formed to identify, conserve and improve the traditional Irish sport horse which comprised the original Irish Sport Horse breed from 1974-1982 and was known as the Irish Hunter for the previous 300 years. It is named the Traditional Irish Horse (TIH).


The Traditional Irish Horse regains its studbook identity through the work of TIHA and is revorded as ISH (TIH) in the Irish Sport Horse studbook.
Genetic research by Dr. Emmeline Hill proves that the TIH has the genetic characteristics of an indegenous Irish horse.

History of the Traditional Irish Horse

Over 2000 years of equine sporting history

a brown horse in a TIHA branded horse rug, standing on a road beside a leafy hedge

Traditional Irish Horses

Breeders that have queries regarding the identification of TIH horses in the ISH Studbook can submit their query to the following email address:

Our Horses

Ireland, Land of the Horse, produces some of the finest and best regarded horses in the world. Of these the Traditional Irish Horse is one of the most distinguished. Below are the different types of TIH.

Worldwide Ireland is known for its exceptional hunting horses and the demand for quality Irish Hunters is stronger than ever. The natural rugged landscape, ditches and stone walls established Ireland in having some of the best hunting ground in the world along with the best of Hunters. Hunting in Ireland is a tradition that goes back to ancient times which firmly places the TIH Hunter as a much sought after and coveted mount. The quality TIH Hunters reputation to this day stands proud as the breed of choice for this pursuit in the field and show ring. The TIH Hunter has bravery, balance, jump, stamina, temperament and gallop making them the ideal choice as a hunting partner.

a group of horse riders and hounds in matching uniforms, riding towards the camera down a roadway

The Traditional Irish Field Hunter

The Traditional Irish Working Hunter is renowned for intelligence, power and movement. The TIH Working Hunter has good jumping ability, good conformation and temperament and is judged accordingly. The TIH Working Hunter is a powerful horse, keen and careful, stylish and obedient.

The Traditional Irish Working Hunter

The TIH Show Hunter can be divided into three sections lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. The Show season in Ireland and the UK is rich in the heritage of the classic Irish horse. They are bred and produced to be quality animals with substance, excellent conformation and movement so that they can carry adults at a full gallop across open countryside. The TIH Show Hunter is sure-footed, clean limbed with an open and steady gallop, is forward going and well mannered.  A magnificent horse with a rich history and unique bloodlines.

The Traditional Irish Show Hunter

The Traditional Irish Horse was the breed that represented Ireland during the “Golden Age” of Irish showjumping (1920-1980). The Traditional Irish Showjumper, through its international exploits placed Ireland on the global map as the Land of The Horse. Centuries of selective breeding of the famous Irish Draught bloodlines with Thoroughbred and Connemara produces a truly unique and exceptional equine athlete with bravery, stamina and athleticism that excels and competes at international levels. They jump with exceptional technique and bravery along with sufficient scope. As a horse, they mature more slowly but with the advantage of improvement which leads to longevity within their sporting careers.

In showjumping, Traditional Irish Horses such as Boomerang, Ambassador, Cruising and more recently, Flexible have left a lasting legacy which is being continued by Ardcolum Duke and Hallowberry Cruz.

a man on horseback, mid showjump at a competition, over an orange fence with many trees in the background.

The Traditional Irish Show Jumper

The Traditional Irish Eventer is sought out by international buyers who seek the traditional Irish bloodlines which have shaped, dominated and excelled in the sport of eventing. Ireland's reputation as a world leading producer of top eventers was built on the achievements of the TIH eventer throughout the 20th century. The TIH eventers' unique characteristics of stamina, courage, athleticism, longevity and heart allows them to perform at the very highest levels over long careers. Their achievements have been a huge factor in the success of the Irish Sport Horse (ISH) studbook which has topped the world Eventing Rankings for 22 of the last 24 years.

In 2012 Mr Medicott (ISH)(TIH) took the number one position in the individual event horse rankings and in the same year was awarded the title United States Eventing Association (USEA) Horse of the Year. In 2012 upon retirement Lenamore ISH(TIH) was the highest British Eventing point earner.

In the USA Eventing Hall of fame, McKinlaigh (ISH)(TIH) has most recently been inducted. This is a prestigious recognition of which only 11 horses in total are honoured, 8 of which are Traditional Irish Horses.  The TIH Eventer has taken first place at Rolex three times since it became a CCI4 event in Kentucky.

a woman on horseback mid showjump over a large log, over a very high ditch

The Traditional Irish Performance Eventer

The Traditional Irish Horse (TIH) is loved worldwide for its wonderful temperament, trainability and rideabillty. A horse ridden for pleasure or competition the versatility that the Traditional Irish Horse offers is vast. The TIH ensures that their rider can compete at various levels and be multi disciplined. One of their unique characteristics is known in the equine community as having a fifth leg, meaning the Irish Horse always looks out for their rider and can get you safely out of tricky situations. The TIH champions all that could be expected from many horses in one. From a quiet hack, to a hunter trial, from jumping 1.10m tracks to a one day event, a dressage test to a gallop across open country. The Traditional Irish horse can do it all and that's why this horse is so unique and unrivalled.

who casual horse riders on horseback wearing tshirts, smiling and trotting towards the camera. the horses are dappled grey

The Traditional Irish Horse – Amatuer / Leisure

the horse, Cruising, with their rider, mid jump over a flower-decorated jump, at a large showjumping competition


the horse, McKinlaigh, mid showjump, over a brick wall jump, at a cross country competition. The rider is wearing a bib with the number 38 on it


a close-up shot of Coolcorran Cool Diamond and their rider at a competition.

Coolcorran Cool Diamond

the horse, Mr. Medicott and their rider on a sunny day at a cross country competition, mid jump

Mr. Medicott

The horse, Kilbaha, and their rider, recieving a wreath at a competition, while a military man on horseback looks on


the horse, Flexible, with their rider, in a red jacket, mid jump. The rider is shouting and the jump is decorated like an ornate building


The horse, carling King at a large showjumping competition, with their rider in a green jacket, mid jump.

Carling King

The horse, Special Envoy, and their rider at a showjumping competition, mid jump. there's a large crowd and flags in the background.

Special Envoy

The horse, Abbervail Dream, and their rider in a black jacket, mid showjump at a competition

Abbervail Dream

the horse, Lenamore, mid jump, with their rider, at a cross country competition


The horse, High Kingdom, and their rider, at a competition. The rider is wearing a bib with the number 173

High Kingdom

The horse, Shear L'Eau, mid jump with their rider at a large competition on a sunny day

Shear L'Eau

Famous Traditional Irish Horses

Here is a sample of Traditional Irish Horses that have made a major impact on the world stage.  They are true ambassadors of the Traditional Irish Horse.

a winning horse and their owner at a race. The horse is white and wears a medal and blue rug.


a group of 6 older men at a horse show. They're wearing a misture of tweed, suits and farm working clothes and are all smiling for the camera

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