THE team selection process ahead of WBFSH International Young Breeder World Championships 2024 takes its first steps in October 2023 with new competitive additions to the calendar of Irish Sport Horse [ISH] Young Breeder events.

This Teagasc and Horse Sport Ireland joint programme, supported by the Department of Agriculture, has been underway since 2005. The success record at World Championships by ISH teams has been strong over the years. Since 2005, there have been six participations by Irish teams at Young Breeder World Championships, with no less than three podium finishes, progressing from third in 2009, to second in 2013, and a superb finish as studbook world champions in 2023.

A phenomenal performance by team members Maria Cairns, Shane Donohoe, Colin Doyle, Amy Finn, Edward Hennessy, Aoife Kirby, Annie Madden and Camilla Snow Coyne over three days saw Ireland lift the trophy for overall studbook World Champions amongst a trawl of other awards at the Championships in Ermelo, The Netherlands, in July.

Competitors are tested in theory knowledge, assessment of conformation and athleticism traits, and must present a previously unknown horse in hand on the triangle.

Training has been taking place around the country, following that world championship success, since September 2022. Young people from all over the country have attended events at Hartwell Stud, Doyle House Stud, Ian Cassells Eventing, Coolmore Stud and Fethard Equine Hospital, McKee Barracks, Gormanstown Stud, RDS Young Event Horse Qualifier Ennis, Emma O’Dwyer Showjumping, Ennisnag Stud, GBBS Ballypatrick and most recently Lissyegan Stables. Teagasc thanked the farms and Andrew Hughes, Philip Scott and Tiernan Gill for their training.

A good eye

The young breeders’ programme is not a ‘course’ in the sense of progression in topics from start date to finish date. Instead, during the period when not selecting team members - as happens between National Championships and World Championships - it is very possible to dip in and out of training activities attending the events which are most convenient.

However, the more events attended, the more an eye for conformation/athleticism assessment (core focus of the majority of training activities) should develop. Each farm visited offers an opportunity to assess different horses with different traits to discuss and the dedicated attendees travel from farm to farm.

Previously only the National Championships served as a selector to identify those individuals who would continue training ahead of identifying team members for World Championship participation. However, for the first time two pre-National competitive events are being held. Both events provide an opportunity for one junior (15-20 years, born 2004 - 2008) and one senior (21-26 years, born 1998 - 2003), to earn a place in the team selection process for 2024 which occurs after the National Championships 2024.

While the October events will offer the chance to experience the competitive environment, there are only two disciplines being adjudicated: assessment of conformation and assessment of athleticism traits. As training has been open to those aged up to 30 years of age it is also possible for those who are born before 1998 (and up to 30 years of age) to participate and test their knowledge, hors concours.

Judges will provide scores and comments on a prejudgement horse to begin, which sets the baseline for the scoring of competition horses. Participants will score a further three horses determining if their traits are similar, better, or worse than the prejudgement horse, aiming to match the judge’s scores as closely as possible. The judges will then deliver the scores and comments of the competition horses, adding to the training aspect of the events.


The first competitive event takes place at Hughes Horse Stud in Co Kilkenny on Sunday, October 8th, while the second takes place at Mullingar Equestrian Centre on Saturday, October 21st, both 10am – 2pm. Bookings are now open at

Even those who have never attended a training event can participate, give it a try and get a feel for it.

Further training will be provided ahead of the National Championships at Kildalton Agricultural College on March 23rd 2024, encompassing all the disciplines tested at a World Championships and identifying the remaining individuals who will join the team selection process.

The team selection process then involves three compulsory selection days: March 28th at Kilconnell Stud in Tipperary, April 4th at Derryglen Stud in Meath, and a weekend date yet to be confirmed in April 2024. Team members are then named and must attend a further two-three training days ahead of the International Young Breeders World Championships which take place from July 4 to 6th 2024 at Stutteri Ask, Denmark.

For further information about the ISH Young Breeders programme visit or contact