Horse fair forced to downsize
One of Europe's oldest horse fairs is being forced to downsize this year amid fears that angry protests over a ban on sulky racing seen at last year's event will reoccur.
Organisers of the Ballinasloe Horse Fair said they had decided to cancel a number of events, including the official opening, free music entertainment on the festival sound stage over the opening weekend and the lunging events, where sellers showcase their horses.
They said they were forced to take the steps following concerns about health and safety.
The decision followed ugly scenes at last year's fair when sulky racing was removed from the festival after Galway County Council said it could no longer facilitate the races on the advice of insurers.
This led to a number of people forcing their way into the lunging ring in protest.
Festival organisers fear similar scenes could occur this year
On their website they placed a notice stressing that the traditional horse fair would still be going ahead on Sunday October 2, Monday October 3 and Saturday October 8, but that the lunging competitions have been cancelled.