THE Registered Stallion Owners Society has written to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, to express their frustrations with Horse Sport Ireland’s registration fees and service.

In the letter, Walter Kent, chairman of the society, says it came after a meeting with HSI in February, which they found in retrospect was “effectively a PR exercise, paying lip service to our discussions”.

He continues: “With recent publication of increases in registration fees, breeders have been treated with total disrespect and disregard. HSI has not shown any empathy for breeders’ opinions. This is contributing to the continuous erosion and deterioration of the public’s relationship with HSI.

“If HSI was providing an efficient and accurate service in the processing of registration documents and the production of equine passports in a timely fashion, which it is not, then public opinion might not be so anti-HSI.

“Throwing extra staff at a problem will not resolve the problem, rather it will exacerbate it. It is very obvious that registration staff either do not understand the process of registration, assuming that there is one, or they have not received adequate training.

“As the appointing minister for the current directors of HSI, with the authority to remove and replace them, then a large share of the responsibility for HSI ultimately rests with you.

“Apart from placing breeders in an impossible position to comply with the law, there are huge economic and financial difficulties for breeders. Even more importantly is the haemorrhaging of registrations from the Irish Sport Horse studbook, the effect of which will only become apparent down the line, when we lose our preeminent position as the world’s leading studbook for eventing horses.

“Before the last allocation of studbooks by your Department, the Society submitted a suggested customer service charter for those charged with operating studbooks. Had this charter been enacted, then this communication might not be taking place.

“In many ways the lack of accountability by HSI to its customer base, has led us to this precipice.

“When directors are only responsible to themselves and not to a membership, it leads to bad practices and the absence of a sense of being a customer service industry.

“As a courtesy, we wish to inform you that breeders are demanding action and, as a starting point, a public meeting for all interested parties is being convened by the Stallion Owners Society for May 21st at 8pm in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel.”

A Horse Sport Ireland spokesperson said: “HSI representatives met the Registered Stallion Owners on February 14th last.

“It was a positive, productive and frank exchange of views on issues in relation to passporting and stallion owners.

“HSI welcomes and encourages all relevant organisations to engage with HSI on issues affecting stakeholders. The issue of passporting pricing was discussed and Registered Stallion Owners Society did raise some concerns about the structure of the proposed pricing.

“HSI took this into consideration and the group’s main concern was addressed in the new 2024 pricing.

“HSI looks forward to further engagement with the Registered Stallion Owners Society on this and other matters of concern. Until provided with the letter to the minister, HSI had not received any formal requests for an additional meeting from the RSOS.”