I had an opportunities to speak briefly to Joe Walsh, Chairman of Horse Sport Ireland on monday, thanks to a win in an Amateur Show jumping competition. So I quickly put together a review of what I felt were the risks and opportunities for horse sports (excluding racing) in Ireland under an Enlightened Transition scenario.
Costs of keeping horses, including feed, bedding, grazing, transport and services all increasing.
Costs of competing, particularlly transport, are increasing.
Horse sports have a high carbon footprint.
Risk of losing much of the grass roots of the sport through rising costs at a time when disposable income is decreasing.
Horses are an economy in themselves, supporting a wide range of products and services, and equestrian sports such as eventing, show jumping, dressage, long distance riding, carraige driving and trotting are undertaken by children and adults of all ages (61 year old Ian Millar was part of silver medal show jumping team at the Olympics) and of all abilities and capabilities.
Ireland could produce horses to international level more cheaply than on the continent due to our climate, population density and small size. We could become a base for training horses up to the top levels of sport.
Equestrian villages could provide lower cost base for horse addicted people to live.
High Tech Equestrian centres and use of Technology to bring competitions and training to the horse rather than travelling horses.
Establish the Irish Horse Brand - the best built horses in the world?
I would hope to have to opportunities to discuss these ideas with others involved in horse sports in Ireland and to explore the other scenarios at a future date.
FULL REPORT: Download pdf here.