Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference in Kilkenny a huge success

More than 180 horse breeders, riders, owners and producers from all corners of Ireland attended the Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference, which was held of Tuesday November 21st at the Lyrath Hotel in Kilkenny.

An expert panel of some of the best equestrians and industry professionals from Ireland and abroad shared their knowledge, and gave fascinating insights aimed at helping businesses and individuals achieve their full potential in a rapidly changing and competitive industry.

IHB Chairman Tiernan Gill speaking to Paul Hendrix at the Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference (Photo: Laurence Dunne/

Irish Horse Board Chairman Tiernan Gill got the conference underway, and welcomed guests by saying:

“This is the first significant equestrian conference that brings us all together following the covid pandemic and serves as a platform to exchange knowledge, insights, and experiences, fostering collaboration and innovation within the industry.

“The Irish Horse Board remains the representative membership body for all breeders and producers in Ireland. Our aim and mandate is to represent all breeders and members and to further the development of vibrant rural sport horse enterprises. As Irish Horse Board Chairman, I am delighted and honoured that this Society has taken on additional responsibility through the Promotion and Marketing contract, awarded to us by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Department of Agriculture for their ongoing support for our long-established breeders representative body.”

Paul Hendrix from the world-famous Dutch Hendrix family, discussed the development of the Dutch Sport Horse Sales with Tiernan Gill and how they strive to meet the changing demand and market requirements through Stal Hendrix.

“I see a big improvement in Irish breeding over the past decade,” Hendrix stated. “Ireland has everything to be the best – the climate and a connection to America which for me is always the biggest market. There are now many Irish-bred horses competing at top level each week at international shows. It is a great testament to Irish Breeders.”

Hendrix also spoke about the need for honesty in order to build and enhance your reputation:
“You sell [a problem horse] for less. You don’t try to move the problem to your customer.

Comdt John Ledinghan, Seamus Hughes-Kennedy, Jessica Burke, Niamh McEvoy, Richard Howley and Joanne Quirke at the Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference (Photo: Laurence Dunne/

The superb line-up of successful international riders speaking at the conference, included recent double World Cup winner Richard Howley, double European gold medal winner Seamus Hughes Kennedy, along with Jessica Burke and Niamh McEvoy who have enjoyed a phenomenal season at home and abroad. Each rider outlined their very diverse backgrounds and what path they took to their current success.
It was striking the number of people that helped each of the riders along the way, and the twists and turns on their road to success. It was inspirational for any young riders and producers starting out now on that pathway, with lots of tips and advice on offer. All the athletes spoke about the value of producing young horses themselves through the production classes in Ireland right up to international level. The consensus, was that the Irish circuit was just as beneficial as abroad until a horse was an eight-year-old.

Connolly’s RED MILLS nutrition expert, Nicole Groyer (pictured), provided nutrition specific tips and said, “When feeding your mare, think of your foal.” Groyer went on to say that breeders should aim to keep the growth curve as steady as possible. She recommended feeding GroCare Balancer from the Red Mills range OR Foal and Yearling Mix to weanlings who may be a weak or that have had an illness and require a higher intake of hard feed and calories.

Austin O’Connor who last month became the first Irish Eventing rider in 58 years to win a five-star Eventing competition, was joined by his long-time owner Kate Jarvey – the very proud breeder of Colorado Blue. Kate, still clearly still on cloud nine after the success said:

“If you get a five-star horse once in a lifetime you are very, very blessed.”

Despite not being an expert himself in the area of social media, Austin O’Connor was quick to acknowledge it’s significance.

“The last month has taught me how important and how beneficial social media is. The girls in the yard got very excited when blue ticks appeared. Whatever blue ticks are!” O’Connor quipped.

Brendan McArdle pictured with IHB Operations Manager Nadia Rea pictured at the Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference (Photo: Laurence Dunne/

Professionals at the centre of media and social media businesses in the industry, provided key skills to maximise marketing content across all platforms. Morgan Froment and Vanessa Louis–Verdier demonstrated social media power in marketing horses and equestrian businesses.

Vanessa Louis–Verdier’s current clients include Martin Fuchs (SUI), Jack Ryan (IRL) and Ben Maher (GBR) and she gave an insight into her usually working day:

“I have the lifestyle of a groom, from seven in the morning to 3am, creating video’s. Social Media isn’t going anywhere, it’s not a new topic but doing it properly is. You can’t just click your fingers and get one million followers.”

French photographer Morgan Froment added:
“You are responsible for the quality and content of your social media. You have to show a really positive image of horse sports. 15 to 45 second reels are the current most effective trend.”

Liam Lynskey, Marion Hughes and John Ledingham pictured at the Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference (Photo: Laurence Dunne/

Topics such as increasing national media coverage and promoting the carbon neutral advantage of horse breeding were also discussed in depth. Irish Horse Board Director General Alson Corbally spoke about recent meetings that have been held with RTE’s Head Of Sport Declan McBennett, and how content sourced by The Irish Horse Board and provided to RTE, have featured regularly on RTE television main news bulletin’s.

“Horses are very low emission compared to the dairy herd. So while we have fewer horses in Ireland, I think we have a very good news story to tell the policy makers in agriculture into the future from a farm enterprise and diversification aspect,” Alison Corbally stated.

Special presentations were made at the conference to Galway’s Patrick Connolly, breeder of CSF James Kann Cruz (ISH0 who has risen to become one of the world’s top Show Jumping horses with Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam and to Kate Jarvey, breeder of Austin O’Connor’s five-star winner Colorado Blue.

Feedback following The Irish Horse Board Promotion and Marketing Conference was overwhelmingly positive, with Alison Corbally concluding:

“It is wonderful to have the support of the Department Of Agriculture Food and The Marine and to be able to host this conference. It not only provided insights into the power of social media in promoting equestrian businesses, but also provided the perfect setting to promote the success of Irish breeders and Irish producers.”