Farmers who do not register horses with the correct studbook risk losing some farm payments, the head of Horse Sport Ireland has warned.

The Department of Agriculture’s ACRES scheme includes an action to conserve rare equine breeds such as Irish Draughts, Connemaras and Kerry Bog ponies.

The animals must be registered with their respective studbooks, and at a public meeting in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, last week, Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan warned that if horse owners register their animals outside the correct studbook, they risk losing their money.

Duggan confirmed the example of an Irish Draught foal, with an Irish Draught sire and Irish Draught dam, would not be recognised as an Irish Draught under the terms of ACRES, unless it is registered in the Irish Draught studbook, which is operated by Horse Sport Ireland.

A Department of Agriculture circular issued in November 2022 in relation to the ACRES Conservation of Rare Breeds action stipulates: “To be eligible for that action, participants must be a member of the relevant recognised breed society for the duration of the contract, with registration of animals also required.”

Horse Sport Ireland issued a warning last December, saying: “Horse Sport Ireland are the only body designated to issue ACRES letters for the Irish Draught Horse, letters from any other body purporting to be an ACRES letter for the Irish Draught Breed are not eligible for ACRES scheme drawdown.”

Foal fee hikes

Recent hikes in the cost of registering foals with Horse Sport Ireland has prompted many breeders to consider using other passport-issuing organisations or registering foals with an identity document only instead of a studbook registration.

Horse Sport Ireland is charging €159.90 including VAT, plus €12 for tracked postage, for a named foal with pedigree recorded. This will rise to €184.50 including VAT from 1 September this year, plus postage. However, while the farmers might save money on the registration charge, switching could cost them their ACRES action payment. Requests for ACRES letters from Horse Sport Ireland can be made to its dedicated mailbox, or by phone on 045-850800.