National Breeding Services Schemes open for 2024

  • 7 May 2024, 14:07

Horse Sport Ireland are delighted to announce the opening of the 2024 National Breeding Services schemes, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. These schemes contribute to the Young Horse Pathway delivered by Horse Sport Ireland. This pathway is open and available to all studbook breeders, producers, and owners in Ireland. This pathway provides breeders with support for the breeding and production of sport horses. These schemes provide support for all aspects of the sport horse sector with something for all breeders and all studbooks at virtually each stage or age of the horse’s life; from conception to 7/8 years. They also provide opportunities for horse and pony breeders nationwide to add value to their herd, in terms of both breeding, performance and market value. Not only do these schemes play an important role in supporting breeding and production, but also the health and welfare of the national herd, education, and knowledge transfer.

It is important to recognise that not all horses are bred or produced for a career in top sport; and the vital role that these horses play in our industry. These differences in breeding goals are well encapsulated in the schemes and initiatives offered, where many of the schemes do not require participating animals to have a performance record to participate. Additional focus has been placed on breeding and production initiatives available for ponies, where performance equivalents are in place across initiatives where relevant.

We have undoubtably seen an increase in the number of breeders engaging with these schemes over the previous years and continually encourage all breeders to look at the below table, or indeed talk to the HSI breeding department if they are interested in applying for a scheme and want to understand what the best fit for their breeding programme might be.

CLICK HERE for scheme list and applications.

Summary criteria:

  • Horses/ponies must be studbook registered with a breed recorded to avail of any scheme funding.
  • Schemes emphasise the importance for good breeding decisions, and that is borne in several ways, such as studbook registration and sire criteria.
  • Own performance or dam line performance criteria apply to certain schemes.
  • All equines must be registered in the correct ownership for scheme funding.
  • Breeders and producers can also use the production schemes offered to add to dam line performance, adding value to the individual mare and her future progeny.
  • The detail above and table provided highlights where performance is and is not a requirement of participation, please note that this is not a full list of eligibility terms.
Age group Scheme Value Performance?
Conception Embryo Transfer €1,500 Yes
Foal Foal Championship Prize Fund No, for foals intended for jumping/eventing.  Dates TBC later this year.
2-5 Mare x-ray €450 Yes, for performance breeds (1*), classification for rare breeds.
3-4 Loose Jumping Prize fund No, for fillies intended for jumping/eventing.  Dates TBC later this year.
3-4 Starting Scheme €1,000 No
4-6 Schooling I €1,500 No
4-6 Schooling II €3,000 Yes, 2* (1.20m equivalent), classification/studbook equivalent
5+ Stallion x-ray €450 Yes for performance breeds (CSI2*/1.45m); classification for rare breeds. To be launched later this year.
5-7 DAFM Studbook Series Prize fund No but requires performance in jumping/eventing
5-7 DAFM Development Series Prize fund No but requires performance in jumping/eventing/dressage/CT and other potential disciplines
5-7 Mare Retention Scheme €6,000 Yes, own or dam line – age appropriate.
classification/studbook equivalent
5-7 Lanaken TBC WBFSH Studbooks (ISH & WSI) requires performance in jumping
5-7 Le Lion TBC WBFSH Studbooks (ISH & WSI) requires performance in eventing
5-8 Valkenswaard (Studbooks Nations Cups) TBC WBFSH Studbooks (ISH & WSI) requires performance in jumping
Lifespan Breeding Grant Prize fund Requires participation/performance at funded event. Breeders prize at each.
Health & welfare MS-SNP transition (adults) €36 Open to breeding studbook registered horses
Health & Welfare Repro Health Screening €50 Open to all breeding studbook registered horses
Health & Welfare Environmental/Hygiene Sampling >€440 Open to all studbook registered breeding horses less than 20 years old


Equine Health and Welfare

In 2024, the reproductive health screening scheme was introduced to subsidise the cost of equine infectious anaemia (EIA), contagious equine metritis organism (CEM), and equine viral arteritis (EVA) testing. These are notifiable diseases to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. Unfortunately, this screening can often be a neglected area of preparing to breed. Screening is vitally important as disease outbreak is costly to both individual breeders, the thoroughbred and sport horse industry as a collective. Equine venereal disease (sexually transmitted disease/through covering using AI or natural) has been associated with large economic losses such as widespread abortion in mares, neonatal death, and identification of the carrier horse. This scheme offers a €50 subsidy per horse to support screening. There has been a low level of applications to date for this scheme, HSI have extended the date of this scheme to the 22nd May to support uptake.

Last year, Horse Sport Ireland and the Irish Equine Centre collaborated on the delivery of the sport horse environmental/hygiene testing scheme, this will be offered again in 2024. This scheme was designed to support the prevention of enteric and respiratory disease in young foals. The scheme involves a farm visit by a microbiologist and/or environmental scientist to sample various aspects of the applicants breeding premises (foaling stables, foal paddocks, water, and fodder). These samples are analysed and reported back to breeders with regards to the hygiene status of the communal areas and the presence of any pathogens in the environment and the quality of forage. This preventative approach is more cost effective than being reactive and can greatly reduce treatment, loss of time in development of the animals, labour costs and loss of breeding outcomes for stallions and mares. In the thoroughbred industry, this scheme has been shown to reduce the incidence of disease in young foals by identifying any disease-causing microbes in communal areas, water, and forage, and rectifying any issues which may have arisen. The Irish Equine Centre provided a presentation regarding this scheme on the 2023 roadshow, which can be viewed below:


The MS-SNP transition scheme remains an ongoing focus of National Breeding Services. The 2022 project saw 9,331 adult horses genotyped across participating studbooks. This reference library grew with an additional 7,443 adults reported and added in 2023. The library now stands at 16,774 and is continually growing. In 2024 HSI intent to add a genomic software to support all studbooks to manage these genotypes and take the next steps towards how we can interrogate these animal genetics to research traits of interest.  Click below for the MS-SNP transition presentation at the 2023 roadshow:



Education and Knowledge Transfer

In terms of schemes that don’t provide financial support to breeders or incur a small fee by the applicant; one of the consistently arising industry discussions is the concern regarding young people and their involvement, or lack of involvement in the industry. The young breeders programme was described by most regional groups as a vital initiative during last year’s roadshow, owing to the quality and accessibility of the programme. It is highly recommended to all who have young horse interested people in their lives to get involved in the programme. It focuses on education regarding young horse conformation and performance assessment, horsemanship theory, horse handling and tours of yards that would ordinarily be closed to the public. It is a joint initiative offered between Horse Sport Ireland and Teagasc, where Wendy Conlon in Teagasc has carefully curated the programme over several years to provide a balance of equine education, camaraderie, and fun for the participants. In 2024 we look forward to supporting the team headed to the Young Breeder World Championships in Denmark to defend the 2022 World Championship title.

In 2023 we saw the initiation of the Roadshows offered by HSI, these are and will continue to be used as a method of informing the industry on different schemes and educational topics. We hugely value scheme user and non-user feedback and continually encourage breeders and producers to attend and actively participate, the feedback received from last year’s roadshows has filtered into this year’s schemes, such as the removal of the ICSI support owing to welfare concerns. Further to this, the roadshows provide breeder and producers with the opportunity to hear guest speakers from a range of subjects relevant to the industry, last year has a particular focus on anthelmintic resistance, pre-breed screenings, equine environmental hygiene and the equine census.

HSI look forward to supporting breeders and producers through the young horse pathway in 2024 and wish to acknowledge this funding of these scheme under National Breeding Services form the Department of agriculture, Food and the Marine.