The Irish Hobby is an extinct breed of horse developed in Ireland prior to the 13th century. The breed provided foundation bloodlines for several modern horse breeds, including breeds as diverse as the Connemara pony and the Irish Draught. Palfreys were known as haubini in France, which eventually became hobbeye. These animals eventually found their way to Ireland where the Irish Hobby developed.
And one amang, an Iyrysch man,
Uppone his hoby swyftly ran...
Mares of Irish Hobby breeding may have been among the native horse breeds of Ireland that provided foundation stock for the Thoroughbred. There is a great deal of evidence that the Irish Hobby was imported to England and Scotland for various activities, including racing, "...they be so light and swift." Horses were traded in Ireland at the Cahirmee Horse Fair near the town of Buttevant since Medieval times, reputed to be one of the oldest horse fairs.
This quick and agile horse was also popular for skirmishing, and was often ridden by light cavalry known as Hobelars. Hobbies were used successfully by both sides during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with Edward I of England trying to gain advantage by preventing Irish exports of the horses to Scotland. Robert Bruce employed the hobby for his guerrilla warfare and mounted raids, covering 60 to 70 miles (97 to 113 km) a day.
The breed is the origin of the term hobby horse. A common Irish phrase associated with the term is "go get on your hobby horse", which is an idiom to complain about a subject, topic, or issue in which one is excessively interested.
- "mtDNA in Thoroughbred Dam Lines". www.tbheritage.com. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Valerie Porter (2002). Mason's World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types, and Varieties. CABI. pp. 184–. ISBN 978-0-85199-430-7.
- Martin, Gary. "The meaning and origin of the expression: Hobby-horse". The Phrase Finder. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- Hyland, Ann (1998),The Warhorse 1250-1600. UK: Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-0746-0 p 32, 14, 37
- A bit too far: Ireland's Transylvanian link in the Later Iron Age (article concerning an Irish-Dacian horsebit c. 1st/2nd-century AD), Barry Raftery, in Seanchas:Studies in Early and Medieval Irish Archaeology, History and Literature in Honour of Francis John Byrne, ed. Alfred P. Smyth, pp. 1 –11. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2000.
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