Horse Sport Ireland’s (HSI) new regime of sport horse stallion inspections has been met with a mixed reaction from Irish breeders.

Under the system, based on the Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands’ (KWPN) procedure, grades have gone from six to three and sires are scored in front of a live crowd.

But the gold standard of a “recommended” rating is only awarded to horses who have jumped at grand prix level, or whose progeny have — putting it out of the reach of most breeders, according to Anna Kennedy of Coolballyshan House Stud in Adare.

“I will be presenting mine to the Studbook for Irish and European Sporthorses (SIES). It costs too much to get horses up to the level of full approval and would take at least five years,” she said.

Charles Morris, who runs Claremorris Equestrian Centre in Co Mayo added: “I have decided not to put my three-year-old, Captain Caruso, forward for inspection until next year so I can see what the system entails.”

The first 70 inspections took place at Cavan (12-14 April) and were well received, said HSI’s Alison Corbally.

“It’s the first time we have put scores up on screen — so those watching know exactly why the horse got that score,” she said.

And Cavan visitor Timothy Carey, from Tullaghansleek Stud in Westmeath, said: “It looked fair to me. If you relax the standards for stallions the whole industry is affected.”

Twelve HSI inspectors trained with the KWPN last October.

The new system, where stallions are assessed for 19 conformation, eight movement and seven jumping traits will be usedÏ for mares this summer.

And Ms Corbally refuted Mrs Kennedy’s claim that the new system was unwieldy.

“If a sport horse stallion is approved preliminarily at four years old it gives them all the rights of full approval,” she said.

“It can continue with preliminary status until it is 10 and then get full approval, or that classification can be reduced to stop low-quality animals.”

SIES was launched in March offering Irish breeders an alternative to the HSI studbook for the first time.

Henk Minderman of SIES said he will hold the first gradings this month.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (6 May, ’10)