By Alison Corbally / HSI
Photography: Sportfot, Laurence Dunne, Nadia Rea

The Irish Sport Horse Studbook wishes to congratulate the breeders who have bred the current superb cohort of Irish Sport Horses that are winning at international level in showjumping around the world.

The newly designed Irish Sport Horse breeding program was initiated by Horse Sport Ireland in 2010, and in the spring of 2021, with the support of progressive breeders making insightful breeding decisions and using all the tools and initiatives made available to produce their youngstock here in Ireland, it is now delivering with consistent Irish-bred showjumping horse’s winning at international level.
The breeding goal introduced at that time was: ‘To produce a performance horse that is sound, athletic with good paces and suitable temperament and capable of winning at the highest international level in FEI disciplines.’
For many years the Irish Sport Horse has been renowned for international eventing horses, but now changes and decisions made by Irish breeders, led and supported by the Horse Sport Ireland breeding program, has resulted in Ireland being back on the map as a destination to purchase potential top level showjumpers.
Chairman of SJI Eamonn Rice said recently, “the quality of horses bred in Ireland has improved immeasurably over the past seven to nine years. The improved quality means there are many more enquiries for potential top-level jumpers being sourced here. The number of enquiries has increased significantly for top young horses and there is also no longer any need for parents to go shopping to the continent for junior and young rider horses as they are being bred and produced in Ireland.”
Breeding a top inter-national jumping horse is a long road. However, the policy introduced by the Breeding Board of Horse Sport Ireland in 2010/12 focused all their breeding schemes on quality per-formance horses. The policy provided additional inform-ation to breeders, through IHR online, enhanced classification and linear profiling methods, in-creased research and development, and finally provided the best possible production young horse competition series. All of these measures are now truly paying off for the Irish breeders.

There have been consistent ‘Green Shoots’ of overall improvement in breeding at the FEI-WBFSH young horse championships year on year. Since 2013, Irish Sport Horses have won 14 medals, (six gold, five silver, and three bronze) 12 of which were won by Irish riders. Fig 1, below shows Irish sport horse medals won at the FEI-WBFSH World Breeding Championships for Young Horses from 2013 to 2019
In 2019 alone we enjoyed huge success at Lanaken taking home medals of all three colours. Kilkenny’s Seamus Hughes-Kennedy, won gold in the seven-year-old final with Cuffesgrange Cavadora (ISH), bred by Eamonn Sheahan, and Carlow’s Jason Foley also won gold with Rockwell RC (ISH), bred by Ronan Byrne and owned by Sean Cubitt, in the final for five-year-old horses. While Kildare’s Mikey Pender collected a silver medal with MHS Cardenta (ISH) in the six-year-old final when finishing just one tenth of a second behind the winning time. MHS Cardenta was bred by Thomas Brennan... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber

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