Irish Independent: TIHA on a mission to promote native Irish horses to breeders

In between admiring the best of Ireland's young event horses at the RDS Discover Ireland Horse Show last week, breeders were treated to a display of traditionally-bred horses. Ranging from full Irish Draughts to 7/8ths thoroughbred horses, the display was organised by the Traditional Irish Horse Association (TIHA).

It is on a mission to promote how much native Irish breeds such as the Draught and Connemara can offer breeders, either on their own merit or when crossed with a thoroughbred.

Jim Cooke of the TIHA said the showcase, which also included a Connemara x thoroughbred, was a great advertisement for how traditional breedes could contribute to the breeding of all levels of sport horse, ranging from leisure animals to high level competition stars.

Next week, the TIHA is shifting its focus from Dublin to Limerick, where, as part of the two-day Limerick Show, it will host a 'Festival of Traditional Irish Breeding'.

The prestigious Limerick Lady competition, aimed at selecting the best two-year-old Irish-bred filly, will take place on Sunday, August 25. All the fillies competing will have qualified through local shows to earn their spot. The top prize on offer is €500 and the TIHA perpetual challenge trophy, with €100 going to the breeder of the champion.


Entries for the Limerick Matron class, for mares aged three and up with foals at foot or in foal, will close this Thursday, August 15. This class will be sponsored by renowned racehorse trainer Jim Bolger.

Mr Bolger, who part-owns the Irish-bred Nation's Cup horse Ballymore Eustace with Paddy Quinlan in Co Kildare, is a fan of traditional Irish breeding and in particular jumping lines.

He competed in showjumping before he began his successful career as a trainer.

"My father used to breed from traditional-bred mares. They doubled as working horses and always seemed to be happy and healthy. I'm very happy about sponsoring the Limerick Matron and I'd like to give every encouragement to the people who breed these horses," he said at the announcement of his sponsorship.

TIHA chairman Hugh Leonard added that Mr Bolger's support of the competition showed the wide-ranging support for traditional breeding in Ireland.

Also at Limerick Show, the judges will have the option of awarding a €100 annual payment to the top ten mares for four years, upon registration of their traditionally-bred foal with Horse Sport Ireland (HSI). These new mare premiums can be claimed from the TIHA once the foal has been registered with HSI, up to December 1, 2014.

Other prizes on offer for traditionally-bred horses include the foal championship, for foals at foot out of participants qualified for the Limerick Matron Championship. It carries a total prize fund of €850 and the best overall foal will be awarded the Major Jed O'Dwyer Perpetual Challenge Trophy.

For older traditionally-bred horses, there will be two classes for three-year-old potential sport horses (in hand and loose jumped) and a four-year-old potential sport horse class where horses will be shown under saddle.

Following Limerick Show, the TIHA will begin scouring the country for the top traditionally-bred foals in Ireland. Mr Cooke says the association will be running its select foal sale in conjunction with Goresbridge again this year, but this time on a national basis.

"Selection will begin in early September, so anyone with a good quality traditional foal should keep an eye out for their local selection day," he urged breeders.

As hunting and event horses, there is little doubt that traditional Irish breeding will always come out on top and the association is planning a showcase for hunting, eventing and good all-round types.

The 'Show and Go' event, pencilled in for mid-October, will take place at Chris Ryan's Scarteen home and already has a number of buyers committed to attending.

TIHA members will have the opportunity to trial their horses over a number of banks and jumps in front of potential customers. Each horse will be filmed and the video made available to the owners of horses not sold on the day.

Mr Cooke assures me that these events are just a flavour of the work being done by the TIHA to promote traditional Irish breeding and behind the scenes, the TIHA is in negotiations with HSI to re-badge the passports of older traditionally-bred horses with a shamrock.

Caitriona Murphy, Farming Independent, 13th August 2013



TIHA Foal Sale – October 2013


DATE:     OCTOBER 2013

COST :    €20 (Free to TIHA Members)

 The  Traditional Irish Horse Association  will be selecting traditionally bred foals  for the Goresbridge Sales at the following centres:

September 2nd. Mullingar Equestrian Centre at 6pm.

September 3rd. Barnadown Equestrian Centre at 6pm.

September 4th. Millstreet Equestrian Centre at 6pm.

September 5th. Claregalway Equestrian Centre at 6pm.

For further details contact: Hugh Leonard 086/0860762.

Mares passport must be produced prior to foal evaluation.



New passport move recognises traditional Irish-bred horses (The Irish Field)

The clear identification of traditionally-bred Irish horses in passports and a number of showcase events were announced by the Traditional Irish Horse Association (TIHA) on Tuesday. In what could be regarded as a landmark achievement by the reformed association, Irish-bred horses with three recorded generations of thoroughbred, Irish Draught and/or Connemara lines will now be identified as ISH - Traditional in three locations in their passports.

“Commonsense has prevailed” declared TIHA chairman Hugh Leonard at the press conference held in the Dunraven Arms Hotel, suitably located in the heritage village of Adare. He also expressed his gratitude to Horse Sport Ireland officials, Jim Beecher, Damien McDonald and Alison Corbally for their co-operation.

Horse Sport Ireland chairman Pat Wall also welcomed the new identification move describing it as a “no-brainer” and remarked that breeders should have mutual respect for each other regardless of whether they were using European genetics or traditional Irish bloodlines. He also emphasised the importance of the leisure horse market adding that each Irish-bred sold abroad was an ambassador.

John Watson said: “Being Irish-bred is the best start in life any horse can get” before sounding a word of caution that the  equine ‘class of 2001” which had delivered good results at the London Olympics would not be replicated for several years with the use of thoroughbred sires since dipping to 12% according to the latest covering figures for 2011. He predicted it would take another decade to return to similar numbers of traditional-bred types, due to the increased use of continental sires.

“Tonight we are celebrating a very timely landmark by the custodians of the Irish horse”  added Watson.

HSI chief executive officer Damien McDonald acknowledged the campaign by the TIHA committee. “You brought your argument to every corner of the country including the Irish Horse Board AGM in Gorey” he commented.

Describing the low numbers of thoroughbred-sired foals in 2011 as an “imbalance in the system” he predicted that the next foal statistics would show an increase in coverings by thoroughbred sires, which he said was due in part to the work of the TIHA.

Chris Ryan announced the new Festival of Traditional Irish Breeding which will be hosted at Limerick Show on August 25th, which will include the association’s iconic Limerick Lady final, a stallion parade and new potential sport horse classes for three and four-year-old traditional-breds.

Other events in the pipeline include a Hunter Show & Go initiative in October and a repeat of their successful traditionally-bred segment at the Goresbridge foal sales which saw a doubling of prices for foals entered in this last year.

William Micklem, the final speaker, also unveiled plans to link up with the University of Limerick where he and Chris Ryan had already addressed the equine studies programme. “We will not make one step forward unless we have the training” he emphasised about the association’s other aim of educating breeders and producers.

Afterwards Hugh Leonard repeated his view that Horse Sport Ireland was open to reasonable requests and also paid tribute to his late neighbour, Shane McEntee TD, who he said had been extremely helpful to the association.

(Originally published in The Irish Field, 11th May 2013)

TIHA Meeting – Dungarvan

An Open Meeting of the Traditional Irish Horse Association will be held at The Park Hotel, Dungarvan Wed. 17th April at 8pm ( all are welcome, members and non members) to hear the progress the Association has made in promoting the Traditionally Bred Irish Horse, to learn of the direction, aims and actions of the Association and to discuss the current problems of breeders of the non TB in marketing etc. and how they might be resolved.


TIHA is pleased to let you know that there is an opportunity for you to advertise horses you have for sale on a specially designed website called This website was presented to members of TIHA at the annual general meeting in Athlone in January. Following feedback from members at the meeting has created a special section for people wishing to advertise traditionally-bred horses. Development of this facility has been done in co-operation with representatives of TIHA. is offering members of TIHA the opportunity to advertise horses for sale, free of charge providing details are sent to Advertisements sent in will be published on a new version of the website which has an exclusive area specifically for the traditionally-bred Irish horse. This opportunity is presented as an element of TIHA marketing actions for members.

If you are interested in posting ads on the site, please remember that photos are a very important (and essential from a viewers point of view) part of the advertisement. A useful guide to photographing horses for sale has been compiled by the team at HorseMarket. contact details are or mobile phone Fiona 086 8581312 or Loraine 087 0642402.


TIHA meet HSI Breeding Sub-Committee

TIHA '26 Breeding Sub Board
Members of the National Council with members of HSI breeding sub committee at their meeting on 1/2/2013. Negotiations are fruitful and ongoing.

First General Meeting

A huge amount of business was transacted at your Associations well attended General Meeting at the Hodson Bay Hotel on the 20th January.We now have a functioning set of Rules both Nationally and for the Regions .The  Memorandum and Articles of Association of our new Company were also circulated and adopted.

In opening the meeting Mr John Watson gave an informative and passionate presentation of the valuable attributes and strengths of our Traditional Irish Horse and Mr Hugh Leonard in his address fully endorsed what John said and also pointed out that , though foreign bred foals made more at auction, by 3 years of age the traditional bred horse had caught up with and often surpassed those prices. Hugh also made the point that a Traditional bred had far more appeal to the thousands of leisure riders who placed a high value on brains and temperament. Joan Bateman was warm in her praise of our predecessors and thanked them for carrying and passing on the torch to our Association. Jim Cooke gave a brief report into our financial position  and said that now we had a firm legal platform we would be seeking funding and sponsorship from various bodies.

Mr Hugh Leonard also announced that a National Show would be run by the TIHA this year. Date and venue to be announced. Our new Chairman gave an update on the meetings held with HSI and stated that while progress had been made in many areas, including passport and stud book issues , much work remained. He hoped that  full agreement could be reached at upcoming meetings.

Your National Council elected at the meeting is;

Chairman                      Mr Hugh Leonard

Vice Chairman             Mr Chris  Ryan

Treasurer                      Mr  Jim  Cooke

Secretary                      Ms  Joan Bateman

Assistant Secretary      Ms Michelle Flynn

Breeding                       Mr William Micklem

Education & Research   Mr John Watson

Marketing                         Mr Chris Ryan

In accordance with our rules the Chairmen of each region , elected by the members of that region, have a seat on the National Council. They are;

Connacht.             Mr Kevin Noone

North Munster     Mr Eamonn Gleeson

South Munster      Mr Sean O Donovan

Leinster                 Mr George Chapman

The Ulster Chairman will be elected at their upcoming meeting.

Our Honorary President is Lady Anne Hempill

Honorary Vice Presidents are Mr Michael Mac Ewan and

Mr Jack Powell  MRCVS

Select Foal Sale – 2012

From this week's 'The Irish Field,' we learn that the top 3 foals by TB sires sold at auction in 2012 were sold at our Select Sale in Goresbridge. They were:

1.Colt foal by Coroner 2500 euro.

2 Colt Foal by Emperor Augustus 2000 euro

3. Colt Foal by Moshajir 1700 euro.


(Courtesy of Sally Parkyn, The Irish Field, Saturday 05/01/13)


North Munster Region – Information Evenings

The TIHA North Munster Region have announced a series of Information Evenings to be held in Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary and Cork in January 2013. Guest speakers will attend and further information is available here.

TIHA Newsletter – December 2012

Dear Member,

After long gestation, the Traditional Irish Horse Association was finally placed on a sound legal footing on 7th December 2012. Your association is now a legal entity, a company limited by guarantee. We wish to thank you for your subscription of €25 which is valid until December 2013.

We in the Traditional Irish Horse Association (T.I.H.A) would like to acknowledge and thank the members of the former Traditional Irish Horse Breeding Society for their years of dedication and contribution to the promotion and preservation of traditional horse breeding in Ireland. Over half a century ago two distinguished horsemen Thady Ryan and Major Jed O’Dwyer recognised the threat to the traditionally bred mare and through the Limerick Lady and Matron Championships tried to arrest that decline. The Committee of the Traditional Irish Horse Breeding Society inherited this project and were the only body that continued to draw attention to the problem but they were “ a voice crying in the wilderness”. Realising that to make the industry recognise the seriousness of the situation it required a national effort through a revamped organisation to be led by a younger and more influential group of people the Committee called a meeting at Goresbridge in October 2011. From this meeting the present Association was conceived.

We would be grateful if our members would enrol one new member and explain that the current market demand is for Traditional Irish-bred horses, whether they are Eventers, Jumpers or Leisure horses. Once again through the good offices of the “Cruising” bred “Mr. Medicott”, we are the leading Event horse breeders of the world. The 16 y.o show jumper “ Flexible ”, also by Cruising became world champion show jumper and we are one of the biggest players in the Thoroughbred world. Traditional bred horses topped many of the autumn sales with the Go FOR GOLD sale averaging €18,000.

To qualify for Traditional Irish status, all animals that have only the constituent breeds (I.D, C.P, T.B) in the Parent, Grandparent and Great grandparent sections of their recorded pedigree shall be considered as Traditional Irish. The first cross between these breeds provides us with an Irish Sport Horse/ I.S.H.

I.S.H. can be crossed by a T.B sire or by an out cross I.S.H. sire to give us a further Irish Sport Horse.

The TIHA organised the following during the year:

• Set up a web site for the new association (Please check for updates)

• Had a stand at the Three Day Event in Tattersalls to promote the traditionally bred.

• A Pre-Olympic night in July in Adare, Co Limerick. The topic for the evening was the “Olympic Dream – Behind the scenes”. Speakers on the night included Michael and Patricia Ryan, Paul Beecher, Tommy Brennan, William Micklem, John Watson and Damian McDonald.

• Organised the Limerick Lady/ the Matron Championships & Foal Championships showcasing the quality available.

• Stallion parade, which attracted a line up of quality stallions giving a spectacular show.

• A sample foal sale for Traditionally Bred Foals which averaged €1,500. This is the first step in the Association’s efforts at promotion & marketing.

• A group of our members attended the AGM of Horse Board Ireland.

• A series of meetings with Horse Sport Ireland & The Horse Board in order to prevent the Traditional Irish Horse becoming an endangered species. At these meetings we requested the following:

1. Identify Traditional Irish mares (3 generations Irish)

2. Put them in a separate section of the Herd Book

3. Put a “T” after ISH, thus; ISH-T

4. Stamp a Shamrock Emblem on the cover of the passport

The first A.G.M of TIHA will take place on Sunday 20th January 2013 @ 2.30pm in the Hodson Bay Hotel. The Agenda and proposed rules will be posted on our website shortly.

Local parochial-type meetings will be held all over the country in January to familiarize ourselves with your problems and suggestions and to canvas new members. All relevant details will be available on our web site.


Yours faithfully,

Hugh Leonard,

Chairman T.I.H.A.