An air of mystery sometimes surrounds the activities of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), the governing body for equestrian sport.

One such example popped up this week when the important job of Chairperson of the HSI Board – a seat occupied by an interim official for the last 17 months – was quietly advertised on the website

The advert, if it could be called by that name, appears under the joint authority of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Sport.

Adding to the sense of mystery, the advertisement, which also announces vacancies for three board members, appeared on the government website on May 10th, with a closing date of May 31st for applications. It seems an unusually short time for candidates for such important roles to first become aware of the vacancies, and then apply for them.

Further mystery surrounds the openings when one tries to find them advertised on the Horse Sport Ireland website. Under “Vacancies” the only positions currently advertised at HSI are for members of the Registration Unit.

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The closing date featured on the website yesterday

It may well be that HSI could blame the government departments for the delays in bringing these positions to market, for, as the Irish Field points out this morning, in previous times the Chairperson of HSI was a ministerial appointment rather than a job for which people had to apply.

Jim Beecher has held the role of interim Chairperson of the Horse Sport Ireland board since February of 2017, and the position he vacates after a very long interim period is an important one for the future of the industry.

The qualities the government is looking for in the new Chairperson include:

 •Significant experience at CEO/Managing Director or Chairperson level of a fast moving and results oriented organisation of significant scale.

•A proven track record of leadership and consensus building.

•Strategic planning capability, having exposure to and involvement in a strategic planning process.

•A strong track record of corporate governance and compliance experience.

•Evidence of a clear understanding of the equine/agri sector

•Previous experience of Board membership and ideally of Chairing a Board

It is interesting to note from the above that experience in the equine/agri area is no longer an essential requirement, but rather evidence of a “clear understanding” of the sector. This may signal a realisation that HSI is more in need of modern management skills than it is of equestrian or agricultural knowledge, and indeed a dynamic businessman, or woman, could bring fresh ideas and initiatives to an organisation that has perhaps in the past relied too much on people from a “traditional” background on its board.

Of course, a lot depends on people of the right calibre being made aware that such board vacancies exist at HSI. may well be a very worthy website – but it’s hardly the Irish Times.

-Colin McClelland