THE Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine has put key studbooks out to tender.

Currently advertised on the Government’s e-tenders website and divided into three lots is the Irish Sport Horse and the Irish Sport Horse Pony; the Irish Draught, the Irish Cob; and the Irish Part-Bred Cob. Those interested have until March 31st to submit a tender.

Meanwhile, Brexit has also now compounded already existing difficulties for the sport horse equine industry on both sides of the Irish Sea with another hurdle affecting some equine passports. Horse Sport Ireland highlighted that the European (EU) Breeding regulation now no longer applies in the United Kingdom due to Brexit. Horse Sport Ireland currently maintains the Irish Horse Register which includes all equidae registered in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook, the Irish Draught Studbook and the Irish Cob Studbook.

The UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has drawn up its own rules for studbook societies, breeding groups and their breeding programs.

In effect, it means that owners of equines resident in England, Wales and Scotland are not allowed to apply for a passport for first registration with Horse Sport Ireland. Upgrading from an identification document to a studbook passport for that cohort is also affected by this regulation.

Latest figures from Horse Sport Ireland yesterday (Friday) show that in 2020, the number of passports issued to horses with a UK country of origin was 63 out of a total of 8,777 (roughly 0.7% of new registrations).

Importantly, equines in Northern Ireland are not affected by this latest Brexit change but fears were voiced this week of the severe difficulties that equine owners and breeders would face registering equines in the north if the Northern Ireland protocol was to be disbanded or removed at any stage in the future.

Chris Bogle of the Northern Ireland Horse Board told The Irish Field: “The Northern Ireland Board has seen a substantial increase in passports being issued from our office. However, should the NI protocol be disbanded or removed, it would leave horse owners and breeders in Northern Ireland with extreme difficulties in registering equines in the future.

“Negotiations between the Northern Ireland Horse Board (NIHB), Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) are ongoing.

“We can report that our digital passport application system is successfully up and running, with applications coming in via the portal on a regular basis,” added Bogle.

(For more, see the rules from the passport issuing authorities in the UK.