WITH this week’s Galway Festival enjoying blanket terrestrial television coverage, thanks to both RTÉ and TG4, it will now be the turn of our sport horse sector to enjoy some valuable airtime.
Slowly, and thanks to the ongoing successes of our riders on the international stage, there is growing awareness of the importance of area of activity.
The Irish Horse World part of this paper averages something like 30 pages a week, covering any and every area that involves equestrianism. The growth in our coverage reflects the importance of the sport horse area, the large participation numbers, and our reputation for producing horses and riders.
When I started with The Irish Field in 2003, my own knowledge of show jumping, eventing and all of the other associated areas in the sport horse world was, to say the least, abysmal. I may still be no expert, but my interest has grown, and it is a sector that I enjoy very much. There is no doubt that having success at international level piques one’s interest, and I have also enjoyed watching the progression of our young riders.
My decision a few years ago to accept the role as honorary president of the Association of Irish Riding Clubs was taken as I believe very much in supporting the grassroots of the sector, encouraging in some small way the recreational rider. Their importance is often overlooked, and each and every one of these members have a spending power that keeps equestrian outlets, service providers and more in business.
On Tuesday, starting on RTÉ One television, there is a much-anticipated six-part series making its debut. Horse Country has something of a pedigree before it begins, being directed and produced by the team behind a number of award-winning documentaries, Kate O’Callaghan and Patrick Farrelly.
Their most recent work for RTÉ was the acclaimed documentary, Marian, about the life of the much-loved broadcaster Marian Finucane. The couple, a decade ago, worked with Marian on another memorable documentary, Nuala, capturing the life and death of Nuala O’Faolain. We can therefore expect great things from Horse Country.
The premise of the series if to tell the stories of people and their horses, those that make up the varied strands of the sport horse sector. Horses are woven into the fabric of Irish life, playing an important role in the social and recreational life of rural Ireland.
Hats off to Horse Sport Ireland for commissioning this series, and hopefully it will also help to fuel more public interest in the upcoming Dublin Horse Show.