HORSE Sport Ireland (HSI) is inviting comments on its draft strategic plan to develop equestrian sport in the Republic over the next four years.
This is HSI’s first major project since it took over responsibility for Irish equestrianism in January, but its proposals for breeding have caused concern.
The overall plan is split into four areas: promoting and improving the standard of Irish performance and riding horses — including breeding; involving more riders, owners and spectators in HSI competitions; improving education and training, and stricter governance — including welfare and anti-doping standards.
Planned improvements to the breeding of Irish horses include changes to stallion gradings, where instead of sires receiving formal approval, the HSI will assess all potential stallions and publish as much information as possible about their breeding and progeny.
“We should have faith in breeders to make their own judgements about stallions,” said HSI chairman Joe Walsh.
But some breeders say it would put Ireland at odds with continental studbooks and lead to a drop in quality if breeders don’t do their homework.
Anna Kennedy, of Kennedy Equine sport horse breeders, told H&H: “We would prefer they left things as they are, with performance horse approvals, instead of opening it up to every horse at every crossroads.
“Why would breeders bother to wade through all this information when at the moment they know exactly what they are getting?”
HSI announced a code of conduct and approval system for Irish Sport Horse (ISH) breeders earlier this year (news, 14 August),which is included as part of the draft plan.
Mr Walsh added: “The purpose of publishing the plan in draft form is to allow groups and individuals to offer their views before it is finally approved.”
Comment before 27 October at www.horsesportireland.ie

Read this news story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (23 October, ’08)