I am not very surprised yet totally disappointed by the lack of response so far to the questions which I posed to the main political parties about Government support for the breeders, producers and services that make up the Irish sport horse industry.

Since writing to the agricultural spokespersons of seven parties in July, we have had printed the responses from just two – Sinn Féin and the Green Party.

A Labour representative has said they will get back to me. I have been given an extraordinary run-around by the Social Democrats and there has not been a peep from People Before Profit. There has only just been contact from Fine Gael, which at least had support for the industry in its manifesto. Fine Gael’s response will be published in next week’s edition.

This lack of reaction points not just to the fact that the sport horse industry is not taken seriously, but also indicates that the sport horse industry has a huge job to do in making itself identifiable and recognisable.


Even in the two responses received so far, I found a great deal of confusion about just what the sport horse industry is. One concentrated on the sport, the other on racing. The sport horse industry is not to be confused with either equestrian sport or horseracing.

It is very specifically the farmers and workers who breed, produce and prepare Irish Sport Horses for an ever growing world market.

If I were to ask the party spokespersons for their response to some new tech company that would create 14,000 jobs coming to Ireland; I am very sure my inbox would be busy. As the The Contribution Of The Sport Horse Industry To The Irish Economy report of 2017 found, the Irish sport horse industry supports 14,000 full-time jobs right now.

Historic precedents

Various governments in the past did have real respect for the sport horse industry. Back in 1926, WT Corgrove’s administration agreed to the establishment of the Army Equitation School because it would “help the small farmers”.

When the Horse Industry Act for creating Bord na gCapall as a semi-state body passed the Dail in 1970, its stated purpose was to further “the breeding, sale and export of horses and associated activities”.

When Minister for Agriculture Joe Walshe set up The Irish Horse Board as a co-operative in 1993, he referred to those same aims for its 14,000 active shareholders. But when The Irish Horse Board was subsumed into the new Horse Sport Ireland in 2006, it lost its identity.

It is that very identity of the farmer breeders of sport horses that must now be highlighted by both the economic forum within Horse Sport Ireland and the newly formed Equine Farming Taskforce.