The hubbub of exciting debate at the recent Irish Sport Horse Strategy meetings around how best to improve the Irish Sport Horse industry inspired me to look to our competitors on the continent, to examine their best practices. The resulting three-part series, “Global Trade”, 3 May 2014; “Training for the Top”, 10 May 2014; “Going Dutch”, 17 May 2014, were published in The Irish Field (please note there is a paywall).
Here is an excerpt from part one, “Global Trade”, about best breeding practices on the continent:
“Although we may wish to learn from the continent, it’s important to remember that in some ways native Irish horses are superior to foreign horses – they are easier to keep, and easier to keep sound, for example. They learn quickly; they’re clever and have a “fifth leg”, as eventers say. We’ve already lost some of that, and we don’t want to lose any more. When a breeder at one strategy meeting said mare approvals are a waste of time and ‘you can take any mare from up in the hills and breed a good horse’, he wasn’t talking rubbish. He was talking about another era, when Ireland was full of great horses, before Ireland ‘sold her seed potatoes’. There are still superb Irish horses, and it’s important we don’t overlook their strengths in our eagerness to borrow what’s useful from the continent. We need to innovate – to blend the best practices and horses from elsewhere with the best of our own native expertise and stock.”