It's a good time to buy an Irish horse! At the phenomenally successful Biennial Staff Seminar held in Virginia last April, I was afforded the opportunity to say a few words about some very innovative developments at Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) over the past few years. HSI is the National Governing Body for Equestrian Sport in Ireland and maintains the Irish Horse Register (analogous to the USEF or Equine Canada). HSI has created, through its subsidiary company, Irish Horse Gateway, a very attractive and trouble-free environment in which to buy a horse.
There's more than one way to cross an Irish ditch. This pair took the high road...
Twenty or more delegates did seek me out afterwards and asked for more information, which of course I was happy to give. I received a very positive response to the information I gave them, so I would like to share a few details with our foxhunting friends who missed the seminar.
...and these two, the low road. All successfully arrived together on the other side. Photos courtesy Brian Munn.
Buying a hunting horse can be a fairly daunting task. Irish Horse Gateway has succeeded in making the Irish hunting horse market more buyer-friendly. There has never been a better time to buy an Irish horse. Before you buy, check out irishhorsegateway.ie where you can see what is currently available and I encourage you to check frequently, because the list is updated regularly. While on the website, have a look at the “Seller Code of Conduct." Nobody can give a complete guarantee that you will buy the horse that is perfect for you, but this document should give you confidence in the system. Sellers found in breach will be excluded from membership.
Several of the MFHA members who talked with me in Virginia made the point that Irish prices are very competitive, even when they add in the cost of transporting a horse to North America. And here is a little more good news: Through organizing to transport horses in groups rather than individually, and through Horse Sport Ireland’s bargaining advantage, that cost reduction can also benefit buyers.
Another advantage of buying through Irish Horse Gateway is that if you want to go to Ireland and look at a few horses, they can arrange that horses will be assembled in one place so that you don’t have to zigzag around the country. This will be particularly practicable when several buyers can travel together while in Ireland.
There are many good reasons to consider buying an Irish hunter through Irish Horse Gateway. Please check the website. I would like to finish with one final suggestion. I am frequently asked about how to organise a hunting trip to Ireland. That is easy and many American foxhunters have done it. If a group of your hunting friends want to hunt in Ireland this season, think about tying that trip in with buying a horse or two. If you don’t know anyone in the Irish hunting scene, contact me. I sat on the committee of the Irish MFHA for a decade or so. I can arrange introductions. You can also combine the buying of a horse with any other excuse for going to Ireland, including the Dublin Horse Show, the IMFHA Hound Show in Stradbally, or any of the dozens of race meetings.