SPARE the lash and spoil the child used to be an expression readily heard in days gone by but rarely so nowadays for obvious reasons. Despite boundless opportunities and countless advantages denied earlier generations, rates of mental health and disorders are soaring among particularly the younger populations in the developed world.

Now I’m not suggesting of course that a good slap should be the order of the day but I am making the case for the value of hard work, discipline, and taking personal responsibility. Take the older generation that lived through the hardship and devastation of the world wars – and most of us have had the benefit of some great examples in our lives – they all had extraordinary strength and gumption. Such characteristics both sustained them when times were tough and drove them on to take any opportunities to make progress that came their way.

Take Sir Mark Todd, undisputedly one of the most gifted horsemen of our times. It would have been totally impossible for him to achieve what he has without being in perfect partnership with his horses. Balance, trust, and harmony – total oneness – is what achieved that glittering record for man and horse(s) - and nothing else.

Like many, I’m dismayed to see the notorious branch footage in circulation. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and giving this horse a lead might have proved useful in the circumstances. How many of us – if any – know what went on before that clip or what came after it? Let’s not all rush to condemn him.

What we do know for certain is that decades of top care, horsemanship, hard graft, and endless dedication brought Mark Todd and his horses to where they are today.

It’s good to see major figures in the equestrian world coming out to offer support. We have to strike a balance in equine sports or perhaps risk getting lost in the backlash ourselves.