WINTER is a time traditionally associated with colourful hunt meets nationwide and the best of National Hunt racing. Such scenes are entwined in our rich cultural equine and equestrian heritage.

Insurance woes have bedeviled many sectors in Irish society but none I would argue to the current extent faced by the equestrian, hunting and its associated point-to-point sector.

Mounted hunt clubs who still have insurance cover in place for their meets are becomingly increasingly rare. Some of the finest packs in this country are on foot due to having no current insurance cover for mounted meets with little prospect of obtaining cover on the horizon.

Many riding schools and trekking yards have closed their gates due to the spiralling costs of insurance premiums, even for those with a clean claims history behind them.

The point-to-point calendar – the bedrock of National Hunt racing – is being thrown into chaos with the lack of available insurance cover for Hunt Clubs. (See letter page 6).

Much good and sustained work has been going on behind the scenes in recent months to get an insurance provider in place for hunting and the points. Unfortunately, there is no white smoke yet.

It’s looking increasingly likely that a self-funded scheme will have to be professionally set up with all the necessary licences in place to effectively rescue the situation facing our beloved industry that accounts for many thousands of jobs.

I have no doubt that there is enough shining knights out there willing to back such a fund – after all, getting a group of investors together to back a fund has been done before in far more straightened times on this island than these. The risk of not doing so could turn out to be far most costly to the entire equine industry than not acting in good time. Is it high time now to eliminate that risk and take matters into more secure hands?