By Norman Fine
The Irish Hunter by Noel Mullins, 2015, Forewords by Professor Patrick Wall, Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland and Hugh Leonard, Chairman of The Traditional Irish Horse Association, color, 208 pages, CaseboundThe Irish Hunter: An Exceptional Horse Across Any Country includes a portfolio of some five hundred photographic images taken at more than sixty hunts by photo/journalist Noel Mullins in his travels in Ireland and abroad over the last twenty years. More than two hundred of the images illustrate the exceptional jumping ability of this marvellous horse tackling a wide variety of natural cross country obstacles such as stone walls, ditches, hedges, streams, and double banks as well as man-made obstacles such as gates, concrete railings, metal barriers, wire, pallets, and even the bed post and church pew that one might occasionally come across hunting in the Irish countryside!
In hunting fields in North America, Mullins has photographed the Irish Hunter out with the Green Spring Valley, Genesee Valley, Orange County, Mr Stewart's Cheshire, Lowcountry, and Palm Beach Hounds.
In his Introduction the author looks at how horses originated in Ireland from wild horses 28,000 years ago to domesticated horses circa 2,400 BC, and some of the various breeds that graced the Irish countryside since, such as the Irish Hobby, the Garraun, Donegal, Cushendall, Rathlin, and the Kerry Bog Pony. Then there’s the Irish Draught Horse, the Connemara Pony and the Thoroughbred, whose offspring give rise to what we know today as the Irish Hunter, also known as the Irish Draught Cross and the Irish Sport Horse.