Irish breeders seem to have taken on board the warnings about overbreeding, according to figures released by Horse Sport Ireland (HSI).

There has been a 40% decrease in the number of foals being registered with HSI over the past 5 years.

The previous situation had created a huge welfare issue and left many horses worthless.

“There continues to be strong demand for potential international horses and there is a market for quality well-produced horses for competitive amateurs,” said HSI’s Professor Patrick Wall.

“We are in a global competition for customers and there is no market for badly produced or poor stock.”

The decrease in numbers is being mirrored in Britain. The British Horseracing Authority announced earlier this year there were around 2/3rds as many horses being registered for racing as there were 5 years ago (news, 7 February).

Goresbridge Horse Sales in Co Kilkenny is still attracting large numbers coming through the sales — it has had almost 2,000 entries for next month’s sport horse sale. But owner Martin Donohoe believes standards have improved.

“All the people who didn’t know enough about breeding have now left the industry and the weaker mares have been culled,” he told H&H. “People are breeding what the market wants and going back to the traditionally bred horse without Continental blood.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (22 August, 2013)