Race is on for project funds
Equestrian businesses will be queuing up to avail of grant funding under the Rural Development Programme, which is worth €450m up to the end of 2013.
Within the sport horse sector, eligible projects are geared towards tourism, diversification into non-agricultural activities, business creation and infrastructural projects.
In the case of equestrian centres, riding schools and livery yards, examples of potentially eligible capital projects include the development of arenas, horsewalkers, equine swimming pools, additional stabling, spectator viewing facilities, cross-country courses and bridle paths.
Other potential projects would be visitor accommodation, improved facilities for disabled and para-equestrian activities, open farms, online booking facilities, as well as artificial insemination and fertility infrastructure.
Horse Sport Ireland chairman Joe Walsh said the Irish Sport Horse industry is a growing rural resource.
"Huge potential exists to develop locally based services, rural tourism and projects aimed at advancing rural diversification," he said.
"The Irish horse is a world brand leader, and because sport horses are so widely dispersed across the country, the industry has major potential to develop as an alternative farm enterprise."
The Rural Development Programme funding can also be used to promote rural tourism. For example, agricultural shows and national and international events held in rural areas would be eligible to apply for project funding that would improve the tourism potential of areas.