The number of foals registered in Ireland last year dropped more than seven percent from the previous year, Horse Sport Ireland has confirmed.
HSI said the number of foals registered on the Irish Horse Register for 2012 was 5801, compared to 6270 in 2011, a drop of over seven per cent.
The number is down almost 40 per cent compared to peak production in 2008 when 10,424 foals were registered.
Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland Professor Patrick Wall said that while every sector liked to see growth, the emphasis must be on improving the quality rather than the quantity of the national herd.
“The reality is that there has been significant over-production of horses which contributed to depressed prices in recent years, particularly at the lower end of the market,” he said on the eve of the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show.
“There continues to be strong demand for potential international horses and there is also a market for quality, well-produced horses for competitive amateurs at different levels. We are in a global competition for customers and there is no market for badly produced or poor stock.
“Our industry is facing challenging times and every breeder needs to have a radical look at what they are doing. Athletic foals and athletic three year olds from mares with good pedigrees and good performance records are more likely to deliver a favorable economic return,” he explained.
“The sport horse sector is worth over €700m to the rural Irish economy and it reaches every parish and village in Ireland. It makes a huge social as well as economic contribution. The RDS (Royal Dublin Society) will showcase some of the best stock from all the different sectors of our industry at this week’s show and the enthusiasm and passion that Irish people have for the horse will be seen at its very best.
“We need to build on this enthusiasm and passion and go forward with confidence, but also with realism, and breeders need to select the best and cull the rest,” Professor Wall said.