Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Race is on for project funds

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

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.

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These could range from creating better seating and viewing areas, catering facilities, children's play areas or picnic areas.

The development of bridleways on public and private land and improved access to woodlands and beaches would also be eligible projects, while facilities for western riding and trekking also come under the same banner.

Funding could be received for residential equestrian competition and coaching weekends.

Training and education in new technologies such as AI, fertility methods and embryo transfer are also eligible in certain circumstances.

Applications for projects must be submitted to the Local Area Group, before they are assessed for eligibility and funding.

More details are available in 'A Guide to Axes 3 & 4 of the Rural Development Programme: Grant Supports for Ancillary Services to the Sport Horse Sector'. It is available from Horse Sport Ireland on 045 854523.

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