Some horses are born to greatness. O’Leary’s Irish Diamond was foaled April 29, 1994, with the good bone and handsome conformation of his Irish Draught Horse heritage and the gentle, workmanlike character cherished in its breed standards. He scored the highest conformation marks of the 1997 inspections in Ireland, and following his sale to Jim and Karen Leary, became the only Registered Irish Draught stallion ever performance-tested and approved in America by the Irish Horse Board.
© Deb Dawson
Thanks to his pedigree, the 16.2-hand grey needed no formal introduction to the international dressage or show jumping worlds. His sire, Glidawn Diamond, was a son of the legendary RID foundation sire, King of Diamonds, once ranked by the World Breeding Federation as one of the 10 greatest producers of show jumpers in the world. He was considered the best RID stallion of his day. His dam, top Irish mare Grey Curragong, was renowned for her athleticism and movement. This pedigree has produced international horses such as Custom Made, Mill Pearl, Special Envoy, Pinon Muldoon, Joe II, Dury Lad and Millstreet Ruby.
When given a chance to jump, Irish liked the idea, but according to owner Melissa Cason-Kinney of Kinson Stud in Bigfork, Montana, Irish was equally happy performing in whatever discipline he was asked for. In 2000, he earned the Southern California Dressage Association’s Third Level championship before turning his talents to the over fences classes and winning 2002 Open and Open Modified jumper championships.
Irish returned to the dressage ring in 2004, and qualified in Prix St. Georges for the USDF Regional Championships. While competing in Florida, Irish drew scores of fans during his tests, and the approval of the judges, who called his high scoring, extended trot “elastic and very forward.”
Irish passed in the summer of 2010, but his numerous sons and daughters have carried on this stallion's legacy both in the United States and beyond.
Breyer's portrait model of O'Leary's Irish Diamond was quite popular, and was produced from 2009 to 2012.