The initial location of the education programme was Garristown in North Dublin. Further courses are planned for Tipperary, Cork and the Midlands this year. The next of these is to begin in the coming weeks. A decision on the possibility of courses next year will be taken in light of experience gained, and demand from would be participants.
The tender was awarded to O'Scanaill and Associates Veterinary Surgeons. The tender provides for costs of up to €21,650 for each course to cover the various course modules, specialist speakers and location rental.
The approach being taken by my Department has been to raise the awareness of the importance of good horse welfare amongst sulky participants and the owners and keepers of trotting horses. The tender was awarded with a view to conducting an education program designed for sulky drivers and trotter horse owners with a specific requirement that members of the Travelling Community be catered for.
This course is designed to encourage participants to move away from the road racing practices and move to racing on tracks and to engage with the regulated sport of harness racing on tracks as operated by the Irish Harness Racing Association. The feedback from participants in the first course has been very positive.