Horsing around in the wild west
Thousands attended the 86th Connemara Pony Breeders' Show in Clifden, Co Galway, which kicked off yesterday for a week-long festival.
Fans of the rugged native breed of ponies travel to Ireland each year from as far afield as Europe, America, Australia and South Africa.
Speaking yesterday at the opening event, Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith said recent cases of neglect and cruelty towards horses were unacceptable even if the majority of Irish horse owners maintained high welfare standards.
He added that he would soon be publishing recommendations on horse welfare by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council.
"The recent incidents of neglect or cruelty that have been reported are regrettable and unacceptable ," he said.
Horse breeders were also warned that failure to register horses meant they had no long-term value. It is a legal requirement for all horses to be implanted with a microchip and have a passport within six months of birth or by December 31 in the year it was born.