Wild Irish Horses: Equestrian Ireland

celtic horse Celtic Horse from Book of Kells Courtesy of libraryireland.com[/caption] Horses are important in ancient cultures throughout the world. China, Japan, Great Britain, and of course Ireland and other Celtic cultures have revered the horse for its beauty, grace and usefulness in farming as well as battle. There are several gods and goddesses associated with horses in Celtic religions, Epona, (Gaulish for mare),was a mother goddess, and a warrior goddess. She was so popular she was the only Celtic goddess worshiped in Rome. The horse deities were often associated with the sun, perhaps because horses were an important source of meat, as well as useful farm animals, and so a significant part of  ancient life giving energy. Celtic horse Celtic Horse Pewter Pendant[/caption] Of course horses were also used in battle, ridden upon and chariot driven both. The ancient Irish used a thick blanket that was heavily decorated instead of a saddle. There are historical records indicating that ancient Irish horses were shod with something referred to as a crú  (see libraryireland.com for more), which is still a term used for a horseshoe. Horses remain an important part of Irish and Celtic culture. An old Irish saying says "Sell cow, buy sheep, but never be without a horse".  Irish horses have long been prized for their sure-footed and light gait. Being bred on a rocky, craggy, boggy island has given them these unique attributes, and their history of being bred with wild horses has created a bloodline sought after by equestrians worldwide. In fact, the steeple-chase is believed to have originated in Ireland in 1752, when two County Cork farmers decided to race their horses between two church steeples which were four miles apart.  During the race, the horses jumped the natural obstacles as they came upon them. (for more information visit irelandofthewelcomes) The love affair the Celts and Irish have with horses has been a long and happy one.Irish draft horses, Connemara ponies, Vanner (Gypsy Vanner), and Kerry bog pony are a few of the breeds originating in Ireland (for pictures and more information go to theequinest.com), and remain sought after for their sturdiness, beauty and grace which mirrors that of the people who bred them. Irish Draft Horse

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