Horses are “worth over a billion to the economy now”, according to the Dublin Horse Show Director ahead of the 148th event.
Speaking on Down to Business with Bobby Kerr, Pat Hanley said next week’s Dublin Horse Show will focus on “showjumping and the Irish horse industry”.
“The Horse Show was set up to develop the horse industry in Ireland and that was very important 140 years ago when the whole economy was all dependent on horses,” he said.
“I think horses have become over worth over a billion to the economy now – 15,000 people are employed so it’s a very significant rural economy.”
A 2023 report by Horse Racing Ireland suggests the sector is worth almost €2.46 billion per year and creates 30,000 jobs.
Mr Hanley said Ireland is also “only beginning to scratch the surface” on future roles of horses such as therapeutic riding.
“I think in that old saying ‘the horse is the mirror of your soul’ - we'll understand a lot more why that is the case over the next decade.”
Starting on Wednesday, the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS is expected to attract 120,000 over five days, with more than 1,600 horses and ponies competing.
Mr Hanley said the Horse Show is “fortunate” the RDS can host the event as it could barely “fit another horse in next week”.
“The RDS has developed a new strategy there over the last 12 months,” he said. “A key part of it is looking at our campus and how it's used and making sure it's used to the maximum capacity.
“Also, in terms of the Dublin City Development Plan, they pointed out very specifically the importance of the RDS site.”
'It's rural meets city'
Mr Hanley said there is also a “huge trade piece to the Horse Show”.
“We have over 350 stands that come in from all over Europe and indeed our own stands in Ireland,” he said.
“There's a very significant social and food side to it with a number of pop-up restaurants and Michelin star chefs.
“The main thing is the people – it's rural meets city, and there’s a great sense of fun enjoyment and social interaction.”
The Dublin Horse Show is partnered with charity Festina Lente this year, which focuses on therapeutic riding in Ireland.
“We saw a huge response last year to our Positive Strides program,” Mr Hanley said. “The amount of families that were looking for the services that Festina Lente can provide is very significant.”
“We're delighted to be able to highlight this as an area - built in education, in health – that there’s a huge value from the horse.”
You can listen back here: