Hunting with hounds is a tradition in Ireland that goes back to ancient times and features strongly in Celtic literature and legend, but never in our history has hunting been so popular. In twenty-first century Ireland as many as 300,000 people from every walk of life, between the years of 8 and 80, participate in some form of the sport. It is quite common to find three generations of a family hunting together.
The HAI is the national body, which coordinates and promotes hunting with hounds. It comprises six constituent and autonomous bodies, which represent and control the six hunting disciplines active in Ireland. The HAI works for everyone who loves the countryside and the rural way of life. Through campaigning, lobbying, publicity and education, the Association influences legislation and public policy that impacts on the countryside, rural people and their activities.
The hunting field is an ideal nursery for both horse and rider. Many of Ireland’s leading jockeys, event riders and show jumpers have learned skills on the hunting field. The traditionally Irish-bred horse is the ideal animal as they combine sure-footedness, agility and are particularly suited to riders of varying ability.
With over 30,000 mounted hunt followers and 300 hunt clubs in every corner of the country, hunting constitutes the largest equestrian activity in Ireland during the hunting season which runs from October to March. Most hunts welcome visitors with a ready supply of well-schooled local horses that are always available. The market for well-schooled hunters continues to expand with suitable horses finding a ready market both in Ireland and overseas.
For more information on your local hunt club visit the Hunting Association of Ireland website.