POSITIVE and negatives characterised the past week in the Irish sport horse industry.

On the more important positive note for the sector, we saw a feast of equine events held in munster and the midlands. World-class eventing was enjoyed in Millstreet, courtesy of the Duggan family, and by all accounts, this event outreached even its own high standards.

Mullingar Equestrian’s national and international show was a resounding success for the Fagan family and between these two flagship events, there were nearly 1,000 horses and ponies competing. There was yet more to come from last weekend’s successful Dressage in the City Summer Festival, held at Abbotstown.

This weekend sees the welcome return of the AIRC Riding Clubs Festival at Mullingar Equestrian with 89 clubs taking part and 600 horses and ponies on site after a two-year gap.

Equestrian sport is flying with more Dublin Horse Show qualifiers scheduled next week. There’s a high level of energy and enthusiasm in the sport which is wonderful to see and be part of.

Unfortunately, it’s also very obvious that there is deeply fractured relationships between some key stakeholders in the industry and Horse Sport Ireland where board tensions are running high.

There’s a body of work to be done in consensus-building to turn the tide on this ugly undercurrent. There may be no quick-fix solutions, but transparency and open dialogue should be embraced. The last thing surely any of us want to see for our industry, particularly after emerging from the paralysis of a cruel global pandemic, coupled now with rising input costs and soaring inflation, is a self-inflicted body blow.

Remember, there’s plenty of calls on hard-pressed Government funds this coming Budget Day from other sectors that can show they have got their act together. Food for thought...