THE sport horse industry was left bitterly disappointed this week following an allocation of €5.2 million from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in Budget 2023, announced on Wednesday. The funding indicates no increase on last year at a time when “rising costs and inflation are running 10% at least ahead of last year”.

Horse Sport Ireland outlined an ambitious pre-Budget submission of €33 million for the sport horse sector and reported positive engagements with TDs and senators. Ten primary areas were identified by the HSI team in their Budget submission including breeding and production support, capital investment for regional equestrian centres, equine farming investment, marketing and sales supports, anti-doping measures and funding for equestrian Skillnet.

However, of the decision to again allocate €5.2 million, the National Governing Body predicted this is going to “apply huge pressure to an already struggling community, leaving many facing into an uncertain future”.

The Irish Field attended the DAFM Budget 2023 press briefing at Government Buildings on Wednesday morning where the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, TD, and the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon, TD, both commented on the industry.

Minister Heydon said: “There is an allocation of €5.2 million for the sport horse sector. As Minister McConalogue has outlined, the support in equine TAMS as a new standalone element in TAMS next year is something that can really be a step change, particularly for breeders.

“The vast majority of breeders of horses in Ireland have five mares or less and it is hard to justify the costs involved in terms of fencing, handling facilities and from farm safely as well, there is an awful lot of merit in this investment so I think it is going to be a big change and one that is welcome.”

TAMS inclusion

Speaking about the equine TAMS investment, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, said: “The significant step change, which we have made a submission to the European Commission for, is the investment through TAMS. It is many, many years since there was any grant aid support in relation to investment for horse sport sector at farm level, this is going to be a very significant development in terms of supporting farmers. We hope over the course of the year ahead to roll that out.” The exact TAMS investment for the sector will be announced at a later date.

McConalogue added: “Also we have a €1.9 million allocation for investment in the National [Irish] Equine Centre in the budget for this year.” Meanwhile, Horse Racing Ireland’s allocation is up by €2.4 million to €72.8 million.

Sport Ireland funding

Horse Sport Ireland is also funded by Sport Ireland. A spokesperson for Sport Ireland told The Irish Field that funding would be announced “in the early part of next year”.

In 2022, HSI received €975,000 from Sport Ireland under the NGB core funding package while, under a Paris High Performance funding package, HSI will receive €3.1 million over the four-year Olympic cycle. Ireland have show jumping and eventing teams already qualified for Paris 2024.

Sport Ireland were allocated an additional €8 million by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media which will support increased funding to High Performance sport in the lead-in to the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games and the ongoing implementation of key actions in the Action Plan for Sport 2021-2023 to drive increased participation.

DAFM funding

2023 - €5.2 million

2022 - €5.2 million

2021 - €5 million

2020 - €4 million

2019 - €3 million

2018 - €2.5 million

Sport Ireland NGB funding*

2023 – TBC

2022 - €975k

2021 - €930k

2020 - €930k

2019 - €855k

2018 - €775k

*High Performance funding and specific initiatives not included