A new 10-year plan for developing Ireland’s sport horse industry has been revealed by agriculture minister Simon Coveney.
A report titled “Reaching New Heights: Report of Irish Sport Horse Industry Strategy Committee” was launched on Tuesday at the Irish Army School of Equitation in Dublin by Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The report contains 35 key recommendations over a broad range of issues, including improving quality through more focused breeding, developing the education and training structure for the transfer of knowledge to breeders, improving the marketing and sales capacity across the industry, increasing participation, progressing the health and welfare of horses and deepening the institutional capacity to deliver on the goals of the strategy.
The Strategy Report, with input from Horse Sport Ireland, Teagasc the Royal Dublin Society, and other stakeholders, will be used as a vehicle to promote and inform policy with particular emphasis on job creation and sustainable enterprise development and the facilitation of export-led growth.
Coveney attended several of the regional meetings which contributed to the report, and noted that a coherent vision and plan for the sport horse sector was needed to enable it to reach its full potential. He said that it was often overlooked that the horse sport industry contributed €700m per annum to the economy, and reached into communities the length and breadth of the country.
Acknowledging that there has been significant investment in equestrian infrastructure including a wide range of equestrian educational and training facilities Coveney said: “We need to take full advantage of the infrastructure and expertise that has been built. I believe that the report that is being launched today provides the framework to harness our resources in order to achieve our goals”.
“We have all the natural advantages for horse breeding and production in this country, a natural affinity for the horse, an abundance of horsemanship and world class riders,” Coveney said.
The minister underlined the Government’s commitment to the development of the sport horse industry. He said extra funding from the 2015 budget to Horse Sport Ireland would help the organisation to increase prize-money across a range of competitions and to stimulate innovative events.