BREEDING – HORSE SPORT IRELAND ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO IRISH DRAUGHT HORSE BREEDING POLICY

HORSE Sport Ireland (HSI) has published the report outlining the recommendations of the Irish Draught Horse Studbook Breeding Policy Review Taskforce. The Breeding Sub Board and the Main Board of HSI have both agreed the recommendations and the changes will be implemented in 2015.
The review of the Irish Draught Horse Breeding Policy was conducted by a taskforce convened by the Breeding Sub Board of HSI. The taskforce was Chaired by Breeding Sub board member Neil Henry and included nominees from the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association, the Irish Draught Horse Society of Great Britain, the Irish Draught Horse Society of Canada as well as representatives from the panel of Irish Draught Horse inspectors. Over 30 submissions were received from individual breeders and interested organisations from Ireland, Great Britain, Canada and the United States.
The Taskforce has made 70 recommendations that cover eleven aspects of the breeding policy and addressed the two main challenges facing the Irish Draught Horse Studbook. The first challenge is to preserve/conserve the breed by maintaining numbers and genetic diversity in the face of diminishing economic returns. The second challenge is to maintain the traditional characteristics of the breed. Each of the recommendations have been made based on careful consideration of the views of Irish Draught horse breeders as outlined in the submissions, studbook statistics and the expertise and experience of Taskforce members.  The rationale underpinning each recommendation and suggestion not adopted is also provided in the report.

Following an in-depth review, the Taskforce has recommended that improved classification and inspection systems for Irish Draught Horses remain core elements of the Irish Draught breeding policy.
The Taskforce recommended a new wording for the breeding objective and breed summary in order to better clarify their intent, to better focus attention on the critical components of the breed standard and to highlight the intended uses of the breed. The proposed new wording of the breeding objective and breed summary is: “The breeding objective of the Irish Draught studbook is to breed sound Irish Draught horses with correct conformation, type, movement and action, calm and willing temperaments and sufficient athleticism that conform to the Irish Draught breed standard.  These animals will serve one or more of three functions:
• Participate in preservation and on-going breed improvement programmes
• Perform as pleasure, leisure or performance horses
• Contribute to cross-breeding programmes with other breeds.”
The Taskforce recommended the retention of the current classification system with a number of modifications including renaming “Class 4” to “Uninspected”. The Taskforce recommend the retention of inspections at the core of the breeding policy and that more owners should be encouraged to present their horses for inspection and linear profiling. A number of changes have been recommended including forming inspection panels solely made up of Irish Draught Horse Inspection panel members and abolishing Pedigree Bonus Points. The vital role breeder information and education play in ensuring the breed’s survival is acknowledged by the Taskforce. The Taskforce recommended further promotion and development in the marketing of Irish Draught horses in Ireland and worldwide.
Taskforce Chairman, Neil Henry, said “Thanks to steps taken in 2010, the taskforce was able to take a facts-based approach in reviewing the Breeding Policy for the breed.  All concerns raised in submissions were given careful consideration, and where appropriate, were addressed.”
HSI Chairman, Pat Wall, said “Firstly the Irish Draught is one of our indigenous breeds, a special animal for a special client. One of its key attributes is its temperament. There is a market for docile, rideable well-produced Irish Draught horses. The big challenge to be addressed is connecting breeders and producers with the market. I compliment the Task force on their work and their deliberations will help the breed going forward. It is important that all Irish Draught breeders and producers work together with the shared objective of preserving the breed and getting an adequate financial return for their endeavours. Hopefully the new marketing function in Horse Sport Ireland will make a contribution here.”

Further information and copies of the report are available from Horse Sport Ireland.

Members of the task force were:

HSI Breeding Sub Board: Neil Henry (Chairman), Pat McCarthy and Dr Jack Murphy
IDHBA: Kitty Cotter and Damian Kenny
IDHS (GB): Gaynor Mitchell/Sue Benson
IDHSC: Cheryl Anderson/Jennifer Brownlow
Inspectors: Michael Kirwan and Dr Charlotte Moore