THE Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has launched the report entitled “Reaching New Heights: Report of Irish Sport Horse Industry Strategy Committee”. The report contains a wide range of recommendations for the development of the sport horse industry over the next ten years.
Speaking at the launch at the Irish Army School of Equitation in Dublin, Minister Coveney said “I commend Horse Sport Ireland, Teagasc and the Royal Dublin Society who have combined their expertise to produce this comprehensive report which involved a detailed consultation process with stakeholders and I was delighted to have been able to attend a number of the regional meetings that were organised as part of that process”.
The report contains 35 key recommendations over a broad range of issues, including improving the quality through more focused breeding, developing the education and training structure for the transfer of knowledge to breeders, improving the marketing and sales capacity across the industry, increasing participation in the sector, progressing the health and welfare of horses and deepening the institutional capacity to deliver on the goals of the strategy.
The Minister added “I have been conscious of the absence of a coherent vision and plan for the sport horse sector to enable it to grow and develop and reach its full potential. We have all the natural advantages for horse breeding and production in this country, a natural affinity for the horse, an abundance of horsemanship and world class riders”.
Acknowledging that there has been significant investment in equestrian infrastructure including a wide range of equestrian educational and training facilities Minister Coveney noted “we need to take full advantage of the infrastructure and expertise that has been built. I believe that the report that is being launched today provides the framework to harness our resources in order to achieve our goals”.
The Minister emphasised “it is not always appreciated that the sport horse sector contributes over €700m per annum to the economy, and reaches into communities the length and breadth of the country”. He underlined the Government’s commitment to the development of the sport horse industry, saying “the extra funding that was made available to Horse Sport Ireland from budget 2015 will facilitate their plans to enhance marketing, to increase prize-money across a range of competitions and to stimulate some innovative events’.
Concluding, Minister Coveney said that the Strategy Report provides a roadmap to inject greater confidence and professionalism into the industry and will be used as a vehicle to promote and inform policy with particular emphasis on job creation and sustainable enterprise development and the facilitation of export led growth.
HORSE SPORT IRELAND