The last time this disreputable practice attracted the headlines in Ireland must be well over 20 years ago.

Yet here we are in 2021 – not long after some of the dust has settled on the Olympic Games – and this ugly practice has reared its head publicly again.

This time, ‘Polegate’ has the potential to do some real damage to the public perception of our beloved equine sports – allegedly carried out at some Horse Sport Ireland equestrian training, totally going against every rule in the proverbial book if proven.

If anyone in equine sports – at grassroots or elite level – thinks people will, or can, turn a blind eye to even the very slightest perception of any improper treatment of animals in the name of sport, they are truly not living in today’s real world.

There is zero place for rapping poles, or other similar methods, used even in the remotest backyard of the country, let alone allegedly at an official training event(s) where the hard-pressed Irish taxpayer is the one ultimately footing the bill.

The source of this fence/pole – who ordered it, who built it, who supplied it, who used it – are all answers that we will await in the official investigation into this matter.

In the meantime, suffice to say official Irish equestrian sport certainly does not need to be handing itself a heavy stick to beat itself over the head with.