Horse Sport Ireland pivotal in delivering unprecedented grant aid to equestrian sector

  • 13 October 2023, 16:11

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) has announced its comprehensive grant aid to affiliate organisations in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. This latest and final instalment of €285,000 for Area 3 – Return to Sport, brings the combined state-supported financial resource provided by HSI since 2022 to almost €2.5m, benefitting 13 HSI affiliates and six member clubs of affiliates.

From the pandemic’s onset in 2020, HSI has remained an unwavering pillar for the equestrian sport community, pivotal in ensuring its continuity. HSI’s endeavours were bolstered by the backing of Sport Ireland, safeguarding and championing the revival of equestrian sport activities across Ireland.

In July 2022, HSI, working hand in hand with then Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, TD, announced a package of €2.14m in grants and financial aids benefiting 19 organisation since 2020. This strategic investment fortified the Irish equestrian landscape, allowing it to thrive even in unprecedented challenging times. Today’s announcement from HSI of an additional €285,000 further underscores both HSI and Sport Ireland’s commitment to equestrian sport.

Major beneficiaries of the overall €2.5m in public funding include Showjumping Ireland, Eventing Ireland, Dressage Ireland and Association of Irish Riding Establishments (AIRE). Collectively, they have received over €1.4m in grant aid to ensure a robust future for equestrian sport in Ireland, starting at the grassroots level.

While Showjumping Ireland did not benefit in this final round of funding, they did receive €553,854 between 2020 and 2022. Eventing Ireland received €85,632 in this final tranche, topping the list of recipient organisations at €669,364 in total. Dressage Ireland received a total of €189,481 including €32,961 in this last allocation.

AIRE received €57,500 in this round, bringing their total allocation to €387,250. Other beneficiaries include the Hunting Association of Ireland, along with six individual hunt clubs, Irish Pony Club, Irish Pony Society, Association of Irish Riding Clubs, and Trec Ireland. The Royal Dublin Society received €30,000 to progress the National Equestrian Education Pathway programme.

Denis Duggan, Chief Executive of Horse Sport Ireland, conveyed his heartfelt sentiments, stating: “Throughout the unprecedented challenges that Covid-19 presented, our duty as the National Governing Body was clear – to remain steadfast in our support for our affiliates and the larger equestrian community.

“I am immensely grateful to the team in Sport Ireland, and the Department of Sport for the financial supports provided to HSI for onward distribution into equestrian sporting bodies. I want to convey my appreciation to colleagues in HSI too, for the tremendous efforts they undertook at that time supporting affiliates through a very difficult time for our sport, our volunteers, and participants.

“Support from HSI wasn’t merely monetary. We aimed for sporting stability, operational resilience, and a resurgence in competition and participation. The HSI Covid Grant Scheme was paramount to these ambitions.

“This final allocation of Covid-19 supports is the final allocation to support the continued return to participation which has been challenged in many of our equestrian organisations.

“Post-pandemic sporting hurdles were plenty, and it was imperative for HSI to offer support. This final contribution, approaching €300,000, solidifies our dedication over these three years, totalling nearly €2.5m.”

Like many sectors, the sport horse industry was not immune to the repercussions of the pandemic. Yet, with the support of the Department of Sport, Sport Ireland, and the instrumental role played by HSI as National Governing Body, the sector received substantial support from the state and continues to benefit from this remaining allocation to encourage returns to pre-covid levels of participation in our sport.