Ireland’s sport horse breeders to share in €2m govt funding

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The funding covers a variety of schemes, such as mare upgrades, X-ray screening, breaking and schooling, embryo transfer, and stallion health screening.
The funding covers a variety of schemes, such as mare upgrades, X-ray screening, breaking and schooling, embryo transfer, and stallion health screening. © Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sport horse breeders in Ireland have the chance to get a share of €2 million in government funding for a variety of national breeding initiatives.

Administered by Horse Sport Ireland’s (HSI), the 2022 Breeding Initiatives are being funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Funding for schemes such as the Mare Upgrade Scheme, Mare X-ray Screening Scheme, Thoroughbred Percentage Scheme, Breaking and Schooling Scheme, Embryo Transfer Scheme and Stallion Health Screening Scheme has been made available by DAFM and breeders nationwide have been encouraged to apply for grants.

DAFM Minister Charlie McConalogue said the department was fully committed to breeders in Ireland, whether they run small operations or on a larger scale.

“I firmly believe that through this funding Irish-bred horses can continue to excel, at home and on the international stage. Breeders can be safe in the knowledge that my department and HSI have their best interests at heart, and we will continue to have open discussions as to where we can ensure funding of these kinds of initiatives for our breeders.

“It is very important to me that we ensure that the grassroots of the horse sport sector is financially supported and I will continue to endeavour to making sure they receive the best of help,” McConalogue said.

HSI Head of Breeding, Innovation and Development, Dr Sonja Egan said the initiative facilitates those striving for high performance, market purposes of the Irish horse and the preservation of rare breeds and bloodlines.

“It engages breeders from foal to young horse development, equine health, beginning ridden work through to the various production classes such as the HSI Development and Studbook Series.”

At the opening of applications for the 2022 Breeding Initiatives, from left, HSI Chief Executive Denis Duggan, Julianne Gaffney from JAG Equestrian Centre, Naas, Co. Kildare (Recipient of Breeding Grant support), Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine Charlie McConalogue, HSI Head of Breeding Sonja Egan, and HSI Chairman Joe Reynolds.
At the opening of applications for the 2022 Breeding Initiatives, from left, HSI Chief Executive Denis Duggan, Julianne Gaffney from JAG Equestrian Centre, Naas, Co. Kildare (Recipient of Breeding Grant support), Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine Charlie McConalogue, HSI Head of Breeding Sonja Egan, and HSI Chairman Joe Reynolds. © Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

The mare upgrade scheme facilitates breeders who wish to purchase performance dam line fillies or retired performance mares from abroad for breeding purposes, while the mare and filly X-ray screening scheme provide breeders/owners with an accessible pathway to completing a full set of X-rays screening for potential heritable skeletal abnormalities.

The HSI Breaking and Schooling Scheme aims to incentivise Irish breeders to produce future breeding horses through a designated training pathway and in so doing add value to them, with the scheme open to breeders with young horses intended for breeding aged between three and six years of age.

The safeguarding of the equine national health status and the reproductive health of stallions is of vital importance and HSI is offering subsidised reproductive health screening in an HSI designated clinic for sport horse sector stallions standing in Ireland. It will include screening for Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA), Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), Contageous Equine Metritis (CEM) and Fragile Foal Syndrome (FFS).

The Thoroughbred Percentage Scheme is to incentivise the breeding of sport horse foals with greater than 70% thoroughbred blood, and the Embryo Transfer Scheme aims to increase genetic variability, selection and diversity. The scheme will benefit the owners of performance mares, or mares that have already produced top-class performance horses, through the support of the Embryo Transfer process.

Applications are largely based on a first-come-first-served basis, with a deadline of September 30, 2022. There is an allowance of two applications per scheme.

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