2023 Breeding Schemes and Initiatives now open

  • 22 May 2023, 09:58

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) is delighted to launch its breeding initiatives for 2023 and open schemes for applications.

These schemes are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) through National Breeding Services to the tune of almost €2.9 million, with additional production classes and events to be launched in the autumn.

Through several schemes, the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine, and equestrian governing body HSI have collaborated to ensure monetary backing for Irish breeders across the country, in all DAFM-approved Studbooks and Irish-bred studbook registered horses.

Funding for existing schemes has been made available and Irish studbook breeders nationwide are encouraged to apply for grants such as;

  • Horse Sport Ireland Studbook Series (SJ & EV)
  • Breeding Grant Sponsorships
  • Young breeder programme
  • SNP transition Scheme
  • Mare Upgrade Scheme
  • Mare X-ray Screening Scheme
  • Starting scheme (formerly breaking)
  • Schooling Scheme
  • Embryo Transfer Scheme*
  • Stallion X-ray Scheme

This year, HSI is delighted to introduce several new innovative schemes:

  • Premium Mare Retention Scheme
  • Colt Retention Scheme
  • A graded Schooling Scheme (I & II)
  • Environmental Research Report
  • Environmental Sampling with the Irish Equine Centre
  • ICSI* under the Embryo Transfer Scheme

Availing of this year’s initiatives and schemes – funded by the DAFM and administered by HSI – will help equine breeders to grow their operation and ensure they have the best possible opportunity to make successful breeding decisions, helping them to boost sales and increase potential for elite performance.

HSI Head of Breeding, Innovation and Development, Dr Sonja Egan said:

“The intention of all breeding schemes is to now develop of ‘cobweb’ of data on the Irish horse, which can be integrated into the innovative SNP transition project. This baseline data will be a huge support in beginning the database to monitor various traits in the Irish herd related to health and performance. This will take time, expertise – and a lot of data – but we want the equine industry to be in a similar place to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) genomic programme in the future.

“The HSI team adopted a consultation and outward looking approach in the development of new schemes, and tweaking of existing schemes, to maximise their benefit to the Irish breeders, both small and large, and the Irish herd. For example, the ICBF’s cattle genotyping, the ITBA environmental sampling collaboration with the Irish equine centre, and of course, engaging with equine stakeholders on their needs. Through this funding Irish-bred horses can continue to excel at home and on the international stage and market.

“In 2023 schemes will be issues in tranches, where funding is available, with the first set of application deadlines in June. This will help Irish breeders to get a quicker return on, for example, their x-rays or have the optimal period of time to have their horse produced and campaigned under the production schemes.

“I would like to recognise the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for their support of theses scheme for Irish breeders and horses for 2023.”


  Scheme Name Description Application Deadline
Genetic gain – Selection Accuracy DNA SNP transition This scheme follows the first phase in the project to transition of DNA analysis services from Microsatellite (MS) to Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) technology with Weatherbys Scientific (WS), which was to re-analyse approximately 10,000 DNA samples allocated by DAFM Approved studbooks.


In 2023 this funding will be used to sample sires and dams of foals registered in DAFM approved studbooks.

HSI Studbook Series (HSI SS)
(SJ & EV)
The series includes production classes for young horses in Show jumping and Eventing. Click SJ or Click EV for details.
Mare X-ray This scheme incentivises owners of performance mares to complete an x-ray screening. Results of these screenings are fed back to mare owners, registering studbook and will be used in population genotyping. 30/06/2023
Stallion X-ray This scheme is mapped on the mare x-ray screening programme and incentivises stallion owners with stallions with performance/out of inspected parents to complete an x-ray screening. Results of these screening are feedback to stallion owners, registering studbooks and will be used in population genotyping. 03/07/2023
Genetic gain – Selection Intensity Mare upgrade Supporting Irish breeders to import mares and filles in the top 10 percentile of their studbook of origin to be endorsed into DAFM Approved studbook cross breeding programmes. This supports the acceleration of superior genetics within the Irish herd and subsidises the cost to the Irish breeder of upgrading their breeding programme. 03/07/2023
Embryo Transfer The embryo transfer scheme seeks to reduce the generation interval and promote selection intensity of high performance/genetic value mares in the broodmare herd.
*this year ICSI will be funded under the scheme, provided there is a specific reason why the mare cannot complete an ET/carry/access to semen required.
Premium Mare retention It is vital that we encourage breeders to retain and breed from high merit performance mares. A new scheme for 2023, the mare retention scheme focuses on the support for breeders to professionally produce mares where they do not have the capacity to do so themselves. Mare must be campaigned in the HSI SS/equivalent. 26/06/2023
Colt retention To encourage owners and breeders to retain and breed from colts which are of high merit or high genetic merit (rare bloodlines). This is a new scheme for 2023 and focuses on the support for breeders/owners to retain young colts (2 years) who are of high/genetic merit to Irish breeding programmes 26/06/2023
Production Breeding Grant Sponsorships


Support for Breeding and production initiatives, classes and competitions at various equestrian shows and events. The aim of the Breeding grant initiative is to provide a pathway for breeding and production groups, societies and show associations to apply for funding for classes, production events and training bursaries designed to aid in the production of young horses Allocated across shows/initiatives
Starting Scheme Incentivise Irish breeders to produce future breeding horses* through a designated training pathway where the horse is currently ‘unbroken’ (3/4 years old)

*Kerry Bog pony breeders are permitted to apply for geldings

Schooling Scheme I Support Irish breeders to produce future breeding horses through a designated training pathway where the horse is 4 – 6 years* and by a producer with the required experience.

*Kerry Bog pony breeders are permitted to apply for geldings and up to 8 years of age.

Schooling Scheme II Support Irish breeders to produce future breeding horses with performance (own/dam) through a designated training pathway (4 – 6 years old) and by a producer with the required experience.

*Note damline performance required, see T’s & C’s

Knowledge Transfer Environmental Sampling Provide breeder/owners with subsidised support to have their equine breeding environment and feeding programmes assessed. This scheme would involve a farm visit by the Irish Equine Centre’s experienced scientists to sample various aspects of the applicants breeding premises (foaling stables, foal paddocks, water, fodder and concentrate feed). 03/07/2023
Young breeders programme A joint initiative between HSI and Teagasc, the programme is aimed at those between the ages of 15 to 25 years who are interested in assessing, exhibiting, and perhaps breeding performance horses. Participants are not required to be active breeders – interest and an eagerness to participate and learn is all that is required. Events scheduled throughout the year – click HERE.
HSI Roadshow A engagement roadshow from the HSI team to present and discuss prevalent topics to the industry Dates to be released

For details on all schemes, eligibility criteria and associated deadlines head over to our Breeding initiatives web page by CLICKING HERE.

Breeding Schemes and Initiatives are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under National Breeding Services.