Behind Closed Doors: The Silent Overhaul of Horse Sport Ireland

Behind Closed Doors: The Silent Overhaul of Horse Sport Ireland

In January 2024, Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) enacted significant modifications to its Constitution and Articles of Association, a decision that has ignited a wave of concern across Ireland's equestrian community. The alterations, implemented without consultation from the sport’s grassroots or its myriad of affiliated bodies, mark a troubling turn towards opacity in an organisation that has traditionally championed inclusivity and transparency.

Original Vision and Values at Risk

Horse Sport Ireland was established with lofty ambitions—to unify and propel equestrian sports across Ireland, ensuring fair representation and resource allocation for all levels of participation. Its original goals included:

  • Representing and coordinating equestrian sport throughout the island.
  • Increasing resources for members to foster sport development.
  • Promoting equestrian activities at all levels, from local to elite.
  • Raising sporting standards through structured training and development programs.
  • Governance and financial oversight within affiliated bodies to ensure integrity and progression.

These foundational objectives have underpinned HSI’s role not just as a governing body but as a custodian of Ireland’s equestrian tradition and its future. However, the recent constitutional overhaul appears to deviate significantly from these guiding principles.

2024 Constitutional Changes: An Analysis

The recent revisions to the HSI Constitution have introduced several contentious changes that risk undermining the organisation's integrity and the trust of its community:

Exclusion of Affiliate Input: A stark shift is observed in the exclusion of affiliates from contributing to the governance processes. Key sections that previously included affiliate input, like 'Equestrian Sport and Recreation', have seen such references strikingly removed.

What this looked like in the 2019 constitution:

Undefined Affiliate Roles: The new constitution lacks clarity on what constitutes an 'affiliate', a term previously understood but now ambiguously absent. This change casts uncertainty on the roles and obligations that have historically structured the relationship between HSI and its affiliates.

What this looked like in this years 2024 HSI Constitution and Articles:
The difference here should worry equestrians at all levels. It really is that simple.

Transparency and Accountability Concerns: The elimination of the 'Powers and Duties of Directors' section from the constitution is particularly alarming. This section previously outlined the responsibilities and the scope of authority of the directors, ensuring that their actions remained aligned with the interests of the members and the sport at large. Its removal reduces transparency and makes it more difficult to hold directors accountable, which is concerning in an organisation significantly funded by government sources.

Changes in Representation and Meeting Protocols: Fora roles & responsibilities are not included in the constitution. Why? – in essence this means that they can be altered, removed in the future by the Board and without them needing to change constitution. This reduces the representative capability of grassroots and could skew the board’s composition towards government-favoured appointees.

Furthermore, the new constitution allows for the calling of an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) with a quorum of just three people, and only one of these needs to be a director. This dramatically lowers the threshold for major decisions, potentially facilitating significant changes without broader consultation or agreement.

Dilution of Advisory Roles: The removal of roles and responsibilities of advisory councils and from the constitution means these elements can now be altered or abolished at the board’s discretion. This change potentially strips these bodies of their influence without necessitating a constitutional amendment—a move that could drastically alter the governance landscape without prior member approval. 

What this looked like in the 2019 constitution:

The new version of advisory councils which HSI is setting up are apparently being called “Forums”, it would appear to be superficial at best. They already have a litany of problems occurring which we will release in the coming days but HSI also have no nominations from Representative Bodies like SJI, DI, Para, Army Equitation amongst others. 

The question is, how can some of the biggest representative bodies not have a say? it may be they don’t want them to and as things stand, HSI will proceed without them.

Community Reaction and the Path Forward

The reaction from the equestrian community has been one of dismay and frustration. The lack of consultation and transparency in these constitutional changes has not only surprised but also alienated the very members who embody the grassroots of equestrian sports in Ireland.

Moving forward, it is imperative for HSI to engage in a more inclusive and transparent revision process. The equestrian community must unite together and collectively advocate for:

  • Reinstatement of clear definitions and roles for all stakeholders within the constitution.
  • Restoration of direct affiliate input in governance to ensure all voices are heard.
  • Public access to detailed governance documents to maintain transparency in directorial decisions.
  • Transparency around Roles and Responsibilities of all Directors.


As stewards of equestrian sports in Ireland, HSI holds a responsibility not just to the elite echelons but to every rider, trainer, and supporter who is part of the community. The January 2024 constitutional changes challenge the very core of this responsibility. 

It is not just about governance structures but about maintaining the spirit of inclusivity, transparency, and collaboration that should define the sport. For the sake of Ireland’s equestrian future, these are not just ideals to aspire to—they are essentials to uphold.



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