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The Venue

25 May 2017

Profile of Elite Traditional Irish Mares Published

RDS taking steps to bring about better breeding decisions

Publication seen as a key component for export-led strategy of ‘Reaching New Heights’

Breeding decisions based on excellent pedigree and genetic merit is a requirement for the future international reputation of the elite Traditional Irish Horse – ‘A Profile of Ireland’s Elite Traditionally Bred Mares’ is a potentially significant catalyst for positive change in this regard.

Published by the RDS (Thursday May 25) and launched by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed, ‘A Profile of Ireland’s Elite Traditionally Bred Mares’ quantifies the genetic merit of the existing cohort of traditional mares.

This publication comes on foot of the ‘Reaching New Heights’ strategy for the Irish sports horse industry, which made a key recommendation about improving the quality of these elite horses and a specific recommendation about profiling the Mare Herd. Internationally recognised for its individual characteristics, the Traditional Irish Horse is a unique selling point on the global market for Irish breeders, but educated and responsible breeding decisions must be taken to restore its competitive standing on a world-class stage.

Published today, the book contains a detailed list of 44 traditional Irish mares that have attained success at 1.40m level and upwards in show jumping, as well as information on 84 traditional Irish mares that have bred horses who meet the same performance criteria at 1.40m level.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Creed said: “It is very welcome to see progress made on foot of the recommendations of the ‘Reaching New Heights’ strategy. A greater focus on long-term better breeding decisions, informed by genetic merit and pedigree, and the subsequent increase in value for our exports to international markets can significantly boost Ireland’s sport horse industry. This industry already supports 13,000 jobs and has an economic value of €700 million, and as such, is of significant importance to rural Ireland.”

The Minister continued: “the ability to infuse scientific methodologies into Irish farming, particularly when making decisions around breeding, has never been more available or more important. Making an educated breeding decision is a vital first step, and in this regard the publication of ‘A Profile of Ireland’s Elite Traditionally Bred Mares’ by the RDS is a very welcome initiative.”

Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of the RDS added: “We an important part of the sports horse community and this is why the RDS works to see the sports horse industry thrive and prosper. That is why we run the Dublin Horse Show on a not-for-profit basis for the benefit of the sports horse sector.  This is also why we are behind today’s publication which has the potential to act as a significant catalyst in bringing about better decision-making around breeding with elite Traditional Irish Horses. We know that others within the industry will play their part to effect change to improve the quality of the Traditional Irish Horse and hopefully the combined efforts will herald a new culture around breeding that is better considered and thoroughly informed.”

The profiling project of the elite Traditional Mares that led to this publication was commissioned by the RDS and the research was conducted by pedigree consultant Marcus O’Donnell over an eighteen month period. It is the first of such profiling projects that the RDS have committed to researching following ‘Reaching New Heights’. Future profiling projects will examine the areas of eventing and show jumping. The profiling of elite Traditional mares was prioritised as it was seen as the area under most immediate pressure.

Speaking about related initiatives, Michael Duffy said: “Retention of good pedigree, trusted genes and proven ability is what this publication is all about. Of course, responsibility cannot lie with the mares alone. ‘Reaching New Heights’ is quite specific about the identification and retention of good colts for breeding purposes to ensure that both Dam and Sire lines are contributing to excellence in breeding. So there is a responsibility on all stakeholders to play their part in consolidating excellence when making breeding decisions.”

In addition to the two listings contained in the book, an appendix of a further eight mares who are either currently seven-year-olds or have merit through their strong back breeding and have competed at 1.35m is included; also included is an appendix for mares that have progeny who competed in 2016 in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook seven-year-old classes that will hopefully go on to compete at 1.40m level in 2017.

The 2017 Dublin Horse Show, which runs August 9-13, will see the second year of the Young Traditional Irish Horse Championship which is operated as an incentive to encourage excellence in this herd.

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