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Breeding Sport Horses

What is a sport horse? The foundation Irish sport horse breeds are the Irish draught horse and thoroughbred, with influence also from the Connemara Pony. In recent generations, there has been an infusion of continental warmbloods resulting in a considerable amount of crossbreeding with these breeds

Traditional Irish Sport Horses (registerered as ISH (TIH)), which do not have any foreign ancestors recorded in their back pedigree, continue to be bred.

How are horses sold?

There are two main options when selling a horse: sell privately (direct from the farm gate in person or using online/video promotional means); or, sell publicly through a sales auction, mart or fair

The market

There is a market for sport horses both nationally and internationally. The market for professional rider competition horses and high-end amateur competition horses is vibrant and likely to remain so, but it can be challenging to sell in the middle market, unless horses are sound of wind and limb, with good temperament (and ridability), physically attractive, and well produced.

Showjumping and eventing are the two Olympic disciplines, which are bred for in Ireland. The top end of the marketplace for professional competition horses is lucrative but limited. At the lower end of the market, horses are destined for leisure use (i.e., 90cm- 1m jumping), for which there is a larger volume requirement, but also a lower market return. The middle market is a combination of horses destined for amateur competition and high-end leisure purposes (1.20m-1.40m jumping). The same analogy is true for ponies, with those competing in international championship competitions commanding the highest returns to a finite number of users, and those for wider leisure consumption at the lower end of market value.

Other markets include those for showing horses and ponies (ridden and in-hand), hunting, trekking, endurance sport, and various other recreational activities. High- quality production is key for these markets to maximise opportunity for financial dividends.

Critical factors to consider when purchasing a broodmare

Investment in a quality broodmare is of critical importance as a foundation for the success of a breeding programme.

Breeding goal

  • What is your breeding goal? Which market do you aim to breed for?
  • in relation to the desired breeding goal, is the mare’s pedigree and damline strong, i.e., related (ideally first, second and third generation) to many horses demonstrating the performance attributes to be reproduced?
  • are her conformation and athleticism traits appropriate to the chosen breeding goal?

Production options

  • Breed a foal and produce to sell as a weanling at six to nine months
  • breed a foal and produce to sell at three years unbroken
  • breed a foal and produce to sell under saddle at four years of age or older.

There is scope to enter partnerships with producers to breed and sell horses at older than three years of age. Trust is important. Agree in advance all elements of the arrangement, including exit clauses for both parties.

Other critical factors include health, temperament and training, registration status, linear profile and genetic indice/breeding value (show jumping).

Fact sheet produced by Wendy Conlon, Equine Specialist.

For more details and to see the entire Factsheet  click here https://www.teagasc.ie/rural-economy/rural-development/diversification/breeding-sport-horses/