In a world first, Harness Racing Australia has announced they will ban the whip in racing and even training from September 2017 onwards. It’s incredible news – and now it’s time for Racing Australia to follow and ban the whip in thoroughbred racing. Here’s why.
1. Whips hurt (duh)
Horses can feel a fly when it lands on their sensitive skin, so of course they can also feel the repetitive pelting of a whip. And in 2016, science proved that when a Catalyst program found that whips hurt racehorses.
2. The rules don’t work
The. Rules. Don’t. Do. Anything. Racing proponents will be quick to interject “but we have RULES to prevent over-whipping in horse racing”. But the penalty is far too small for jockeys to be truly deterred from belting their horses across the finish line, with many owners publicly stating that they will pay their jockeys whipping fines because they want their horse ridden out.
In fact, on Melbourne Cup Day in 2016, there was over 7 whipping fines and reprimands at the one race meet alone.
And two weeks before that, one jockey pled guilty to intentionally striking his horse over the head in a race. Not once – but twice.
3. Because if you did it to any other animal – you would be fined (or even jailed)
Under animal welfare legislation, it is an offence to whip an animal.
But the racing industry is exempt from these rules. And its time that changed.
4. 79% of Australians agree
A Herald Sun poll conducted on the December 11 following the harness racing whip ban found that 79% of voters want to see a ban on the whip in all horse racing.
5. Because, putting it simply, it’s the right thing to do
Horse racing operates on a social license, and recent years have shown that more and more people will no longer tolerate animal cruelty. The racing industry is their own worst enemy if they don’t ban this most public display of animal cruelty.