Dublin’s Army Equitation School, which has trained some of Ireland’s best show jumpers and eventers, could be the victim of cuts in defence budgets.
A report commissioned by the Irish government to identify ways to save money in the public sector has recommended that disbanding the army equitation team and closing its centre would save around €1million.
President of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) Joe Walsh warned that the closure would have far-reaching ramifications for the horse industry.
He said: “The horse sport sector in Ireland is worth over €400 million to the Irish economy and the Army Equitation School has been at the forefront in promoting the Irish horse throughout the world.”
Army riders currently representing Ireland are eventers Capt Geoff Curran (pictured) and Capt Brian Curran-Cournaine and show jumpers Capt Shane Carey and Capt David O’Brian, who both compete at international grand prix level.
The proposed closure is expected to also impact heavily on sport horse breeding.
HSI spokesman Colin McClelland said: “Army riders only ride Irish sport horses, so if the closure goes ahead, there will be no-one out there promoting them and Irish breeding will suffer as a result.”
In a further blow to equestrian sport in Ireland, the report also recommended a cut in funding to the Sports Council to the tune of approximately €17million.
This would have major implications for developing the sport and particularly for preparing teams for the London 2012 Olympic Games, said Mr Walsh.