The upper age limit in this summer’s show hunter classes at Dublin Horse Show (6-10 August) has been reduced to 8 years old from 10, with the intention to reduce this further to 7 years old in 2015.
The rule change is in response to consultation with industry experts from the UK and Ireland, as part of a greater strategic review of the show, and ensures that “the young horse holds centre stage”.
The decision is in line with the equestrian mission of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and the Dublin Horse Show to support the Irish breeder and producer.
“The Dublin Horse Show has always been a showcase for the best young horses that Irish breeders and producers can put forward,” RDS equestrian development manager Fiona Sheridan told H&H.
“In reducing the age limit, it was felt that it would encourage the production of more young horses and keep the section fresh and vibrant.”
But the move will have its detractors. At Horse of the Year Show last year, 66 of the 169 catalogued entries (39%) across 6 classes were aged 10 or over.
H&H showing reporter Margaret Shaw believed that although Dublin is a “shop window for young horse, the restriction will be unpopular” elsewhere.
“The 4- and 5-year-old classes which were once very popular at features shows like Cheshire County and Great Yorkshire have fizzled out in recent years because of lack of entries.”
Dublin’s show hunter classes are also restricted to Irish-bred horses only.
Ms Sheridan said that older horses are catered for in “riding horse classes, the sportsman (amateur hunter) and working hunters”.