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'sector must be nurtured'

Dr Pat Wall, himself a keen horserider, pays generous tribute to the many great people he has met during the past year and particularly the spirit of volunteerism that allows the Horse Sport Ireland and affiliates to function, enabling the sporting disciplines and show societies to run events the length and breadth of the country.

There are many types of sport horses, from children's ponies to international mounts and the sector contains many varied stakeholders with different aims and objectives.

The people involved include breeders, producers of young stock and participants in a range of sporting disciplines.

"The sector has players in every parish in the country and every weekend you can meet horseboxes going in all directions to one type of sporting event or another."

Dr Wall attended Clifden Show last summer where there was a meeting between the parent society and all the daughter societies of the Connemara. There were breeders and buyers from all over the world there, brought together by the pony.

"It was like the United Nations for Connemaras," he says in admiration. "To be totally honest, I hadn't really realised it was such an iconic Irish brand."

While admitting there can be a temptation to moan about the lack of an economic return from aspects of the sport horse industry, he urges those who participate, in whatever way, not to underestimate the social capital and the fun gained from having a horse.

He suggests that this 'social capital' should be nurtured to help drive the sector into the future.

Irish Independent