Breeders seek happier times for sales
Sport horse breeders will be hoping this year brings with it a major change in their fortunes. After a year when prices for all stock took a hammering, breeders and producers are undoubtedly anxious that the market will pick up again in the coming months.
However, the overriding message to be learned from last year is that quality animals will always sell. Probably not at the highest prices we saw during the Celtic Tiger era, granted, but enough to generate a modest profit.
Internationally, Ireland is well regarded as a producer of quality sport horses and the country's reputation rests in the hands of individual breeders, so breeding decisions made this spring will prove critical in the coming years.
Informed breeding for specific markets is the key to maintaining our strength.
For the past 15 years, the Irish Sport Horse Studbook has topped the world rankings for eventing. It is time that our showjumping horses start to catch up.
Buyers make their decisions based on results and we need more top Irish-bred horses making their mark on the international showjumping circuit.
Meanwhile, Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) is mounting a Trojan effort to improve the standing of both Irish horses and riders.
A new rule book has been approved for equestrian sport, which will apply to all riders who represent Ireland in international competitions, be it showjumping, eventing, dressage, para-equestrian, carriage driving, endurance, reining and vaulting.