I READ your paper’s report from the IHB AGM, and the perceived disconnect, between both the IHB, and HSI on the one hand, and the breeders on the other, and recognising the work to be done to re-establish the linkage with the breeders.

On reading further, the fact that the IHB are bidding to manage the studbooks indicates a loss of confidence by the breeders represented by the IHB, in the work being done by HSI on behalf of the breeders, which to me represents the biggest fundamental threat to the continuance of HSI in its current format, since the DAFM gave the managing of the studbooks to HSI in 2008.

On reading it, I recollected some comments made more recently in November 2018 by the then Minister for Agriculture, “the Irish equine industry is built on a foundation of small owners, breeders and operators and if we lose sight of that we could very quickly have a situation where the base dies out.”

While less high profile than the sporting affiliates of HSI, the IHB is the link to the breeders, which is the core group to which DAFM provides funding for the development of the sector, through the auspices of HSI.

With that in mind, given the IHB has apparently lost confidence in HSI, in carrying out its role in the studbooks, it was even more surprising that the relevant members of HSI felt they could not attend the IHB AGM, because of a perceived conflict of interest, over who would manage the studbook. In reality they should have been setting out their stall as to what they can do to support the sector now and into the future.

My own experience of breeders has been that they know and understand their markets, one only has to look at how the sector has continued to adapt, change and both survive, and thrive, before and particularly during Covid.

One would hope that HSI is offering more to the breeders than the managing the studbooks, for if they lose the contract, what is the future for HSI? And hopefully that future will not be more of the currently rumoured large legal bills being incurred by HSI.

We will await the outcomes of the studbook decisions, but no matter who is managing them, the genie is out of the bottle, that all is not well, and confidence has been lost in the administration of our sport horse industry.

Yours etc

David O’Brien


Co Kildare