‘Rapping’ allegation against Horse Sport Ireland official not upheld after inquiry

Investigation centred around a ‘metal bar training practice’ associated with high-performance director Sally Corscadden

An investigation into Horse Sport Ireland’s (HSI) eventing high-performance director Sally Corscadden has not upheld allegations of “rapping”.

Rapping refers to a technique employed in order to make a horse jump higher.

An inquiry into the allegation, conducted by Mr Justice Frank Clarke, has deemed it “insufficiently clear” to justify a finding of a breach.

“It could not be said that Ms Corscadden sanctioned a breach of the rapping rule in the course of training taking place under her control,” HSI said in a summary of the report’s findings published on Wednesday.


The investigation centred around a “metal bar training practice” associated with Ms Corscadden and whether this amounted to a breach of the rules of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) or gave rise to a breach of her contract.

A previous investigation conducted by Susan Ahern BL examined what Mr Justice Clarke referred to as the “attached aluminium plank” training method. This involved placing a metal bar on the top of the uppermost pole of a standard showjumping fence.

“Ms Ahern found following her investigation that the attached aluminium plank training practice, based on the evidence of how it was slanted away from the direction of the horse approaching the fence, did not amount to rapping,” HSI noted.

Mr Justice Clarke set out his “central substantive finding” that it was “insufficiently clear that it did amount to rapping to justify a finding of a breach by Ms Corscadden of her contractual obligations to HSI”.

“It was not sufficiently clear that the practice was rapping to justify a finding of breach of contract.”

Evidence the practice would cause unnecessary pain or discomfort to a horse was also inconclusive, he said.

However, regarding an additional allegation, he found Ms Corscadden to be in breach of her contract of employment by not drawing the HSI’s attention to the fact the metal bar training practice was in use when an investigation into “not entirely dissimilar training methods was in train”.

An appropriate sanction, according to the report, would be a written final warning stating that any further material breach of the duty of trust and confidence could well result in dismissal.

Ms Corscadden could not be immediately reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the governance structure at HSI has been branded “flawed and unfit for purpose” by affiliate organisations representing dressage, eventing, para-equestrian, showjumping and venue operators.

Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday, Ronan Corrigan of Showjumping Ireland said the recent history of HSI demonstrated “self-preservation with a total lack of understanding of the industry or its pressing needs”.

Referencing its future board make-up, he said: “This current direction must be halted, and an industry-led review of their actual needs carried out with the aspiration of rebuilding a Horse Sport Ireland entity that would once again be truly representative of the industry and sport.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times