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Horse Sport Ireland breeding initiatives 2020

The champion showjumping foal Boleybawn Alaska (ISH: Malito de Reve(SF) - Arina (KWPN) x Crown Z) bred and owned by Ronan Rothwell l-r: Ger O’Neill, Barry O’Connor, Alison Corbally and Ronan Rothwell

By Alison Corbally / HSI Director of Breeding and Programmes
Photography: Susan Finnerty

While the competition sector of our Sport Horse Industry is currently experiencing government- enforced restrictions due to Covid-19, the breeding sector can continue, albeit adhering to all Irish Government guidelines to prevent the spread of this virus.

As highlighted in recent Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) advertisements, we have made arrangements to continue to provide registration services and processing for our breeders while adhering to the current restrictions and guidelines. While we are not facilitating in-person visits to our offices during the restrictions, the Horse Sport Ireland team will continue to assist you with any queries you may have. Many of the 2020 HSI national breeding initiatives are already published online and online forms are available for breeders to participate and apply.

Thoroughbred Percentage foal Scheme.

The aim of this scheme is to increase the level of Thoroughbred percentage in foals bred in Ireland, registered in DAFM studbooks and destined for eventing. From an analysis of the foal registration records over the past four years it was clear that only (5%) of foals being bred in Ireland have more than 75% Thoroughbred blood. At the HSI eventing breeding conference in 2018, the top-level event riders and trainers emphasised the need for more Thoroughbred blood. Padraig McCarthy and Chris Bartle emphasised the need for greater than 80% Thoroughbred blood for the top four-star event horse. When Michael Jung was in Ireland last autumn, he too was looking for horses with 80% blood, and he claimed that they are very difficult to source in Europe.
One of the breeders who utilised the scheme last year was Mary Rothwell, from Tinahely, Co. Wicklow. Mary told us that, “This was my first year doing this scheme and we had three mares for it. I think it’s an excellent incentive for the breeders and breeding in Ireland. Over the years Ireland’s bloodlines have become diluted with the increased use of popular foreign stallions while we have lost some of our own Irish horse traits and characteristics. The Irish Sport Horse has always been known and associated with having a great brain or a fifth leg, introducing warmblood lines has in my opinion somewhat diluted this trait over the years. This scheme also helps the traditional breeder aiming for the event market, which is a longer road when going to the sales versus the produce from warmblood stallions which can usually command good prices as foals.”
She continued, “It is a really worthwhile scheme introduced by Horse Sport Ireland because it encourages breeders to inject Thoroughbred blood back into our lines and also the progeny from this scheme are predominantly aimed at the eventing discipline where we have been so well recognised in the world rankings for years. I definitely intend to use this scheme in the future and look forward to it being reintroduced in 2020.”
The Thoroughbred incentive scheme, will assist the first 200 breeders, (subject to meeting mare and stallion classification and performance criteria) that register a foal with more than 70% Thoroughbred blood in 2021. This scheme was oversubscribed last year, which only allowed the best proven mares to participate, which augers well from the production of more elite Irish event horses in the future... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber