IN the past week, we have been alerted to more sorry cases of what can only be termed shady dealing going on in some parts of the Irish sport horse world.

Unfortunately, there are, and always were, some unscrupulous people out there. If there is a loophole to be found or a weakness in a system to be exploited, they will somehow always find it.

The rules on the transfer of equine ownership must be tightened up, both the seller and the buyer should have to sign the form. Passport agencies, if they suspect or are alerted to a problem, should check in with the owner.

Everyone in the chain has a duty of care to make sure that the system works as it should.

Listening to the victims this week, it’s obvious that rogue operators come in many guises - some wear badges of respectability - check out who you are about to trust!

There’s at least two sides to every story but check up as much as you can on the person you are about to trust with your horse/pony, your time, and ultimately, your money.

Our industry is not unique here of course - it’s always a case of ‘buyer beware’ - but the actions of a few cast a long shadow that reflects poorly on the whole.

It’s high time for zero tolerance for anyone, or indeed any organisation, if they are found to have acted in a less than fair, honest, and transparent manner. Our industry must protect its reputation and root out such wrong-doers.

Horse welfare in spotlight again

Barely has one man been rightfully jailed by the courts for equine cruelty, than two other dreadful cases of dead and starving horses came to the attention of the equine welfare authorities in the past week.

Two more harrowing cases in Kilkenny and Wexford came to light in recent days. Whether or not these cases end in an eventual prosecution in court isn’t really the end game or the outcome that anyone particularly wants to see. Equine welfare is at the forefront of everyone’s minds in such cases. It’s simply all about the horses and preventing their unnecessary suffering.

Officials dealing with the coalface of such cases will always tell you that the months of March and April can be the worst for grazing horses as the grass is at its lowest ebb before the new growth kicks in - that’s good advice for all of us to keep in mind.