Breeding is a question of balance - practice, theory and, if you ask most successful breeders, a good percentage of luck are all part of the story.
In our webinar Sport Horse Breeding: Bloodlines, Sweat and Tears, we are privileged to hear some of the very best breeders in Ireland and France discuss how they make the breeding balance work for them.
It is clear from the open and honest accounts of the panellists that genetics alone are only a small part of sport horse breeding and are not a guarantee of success.
When we listen carefully to our breeders, it seems clear that their story unfolds somewhere between a focused knowledge of pedigrees and the relentless nights of foaling, between acknowledging the truths of their own horses and the forensic attention required to raise foals safely to adulthood.
The webinar will be available here from 7.45pm Wednesday 30 March.
In the last 10 years, breeding in Ireland has moved on at pace, with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ISCI) and embryo transfer available to all who can afford it.
But, at the same time, these methods raise the question that if commerciality pushes certain genetic families, what has to give? There must be diversity at some point, surely?
Breeding is a long-term process with a heavy emphasis on economic factors too, not made easy by rising fertiliser, feed and fuel prices. And therein lies another crux – can smaller farm breeders with less than five broodmares still make breeding sport horses work?
Throughout both the webinar and our 2022 Breeding Supplement, we have endeavoured to invite discussion on these pertinent breeding issues, alongside a range of interviews with Irish breeders and equine specialists at the top of their game.
Suffice to say that all other issues aside, breeders need adequate financial support; if given it, our dedicated and talented Irish sport horse breeders can continue to produce some of the best horses in the world.
We can all play our part in addressing the current lack of support for our equine farming families within the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) by asking questions of the Department of Agriculture or our local politicians . We can also support the organisations lobbying for change on our behalf.
Bernard le Courtois of Haras de Brullemail
Successful breeder, stallion owner, international judge, former Editor of L’Epron (France’s leading equine publication), former president of the Selle Francais studbook.
Andrea Etter of Belmont House Stud
As well as breeding some of the country’s most promising horses, Andrea also stands an impressive roster of stallions. She is a respected EFI level two coach for show jumping, eventing and dressage. She studied equine science at the University of Limerick and is also a qualified saddler.
Ger O’Neill of Castlefield Sport Horses
International show jumper and producer, and two-time world champion rider of six-year-old horses.
Ger is also a stud owner, recently standing Bertram Allen’s superstar Romanov for his first breeding season. He also stands a roster of thoroughbred stallions through Castlefield Stud.
Peter Brady of Drumgoland Stud
Cavan breeder Peter Brady bred Aachen CSIO4* eventing winner Off The Record (VDL Arkansas - Drumgoland Bay by Ard Ohio) ridden by Will Coleman (USA). He also stands stallion Drumgoland Candy Boy.
Aidan and Ray Carroll of CBI Sport Horses
Passionate breeders Ray and Aidan Carroll from Co Offaly had their most successful year to date in the 2021 Dublin National Championships where two of their 2015 homebreds achieved an incredible first and second in the six-year-old class and both went on to jump for Ireland at the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses.
With thanks to our sponsors Foran Equine.