Should racehorse whipping be banned?

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Cross-posted from the Global Post

Horse racing whip cartoon by Tandberg

LONDON, United Kingdom — In Britain, horse racing is wildly popular. Millions of fans — including Her Majesty — pack the nation’s racecourses every year to watch equine athletes and their riders compete.

But this season, the Sport of Kings is embroiled in a heated debate over the jockey’s most iconic tool: the whip.

In October, the sport’s governing body unveiled new regulations halving the number of times a jockey can strike a horse during a race, with strict penalties including suspensions and loss of prize money.

Since then, the season has been a blur of suspensions, angry protests and rule revisions. The head of the jockeys’ union has called it “the most challenging time for jockeys for many decades.”

The whip became a public issue in Britain this April following the Aintree Grand National, the sport’s premiere event. Many spectators were horrified by winning jockey Jason Maguire’s flailing of Ballabriggs, his clearly-exhausted mount, in the final stretches of a race in which two horses sustained fatal injuries. Read more >>

6 thoughts on “Should racehorse whipping be banned?”

  1. What the crowds actually are seeing are horses literally beaten to death in front of them. This is the reason that horses simply drop dead at the end of some races which happens all of the time, we simply don’t hear about it. They are terrified of the whips, this is the very same thing that has happened to elephants in circuses being terrified of the bull hooks. It causes severe pain. The trainers/keepers know just where to gouge the animal to cause this pain. In some states bull hooks are being banned so it is stopping elephant rides because the trainers know they can’t control the elephant with out the pain. i hope the ban spreads all across the country if not the globe. This is also the same type of pain that bits used to control a horse basically cause. There is only one type of bridle called a bitless that a vet invented that is pain free. It’s not the hackamore or the type that has a big ball of hard leather that fits under the horses chin that cause a large sore to develop and is always painful.

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    1. Apparently Barb3000 doesn’t know the proper use of a whip or a bit. Proper training techniques create influence without pain. Horses don’t constantly put up with pain without getting sour. A light hand and a gentle bit allow a rider to communicate subtly with a horse. A whip allows the rider to touch the horse where he cannot reach with the hand or leg. In the proper hands these tools allow the rider to create a beautiful performance with the horse as his full willing partner.

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      1. You are right of course, Diana, about the intended use of the whip.

        However, having worked as a racing photographer for more than a decade, I can tell you this is not what many jockeys are doing. You have half a ton of animal going 40 miles an hour at tight quarters… not exactly an ideal situation to gently use the whip is it? Or control your horse with it? The best jockeys rarely use the whip; it’s all in the hands, and their incredible agility and strength. The less talented flog their horses; I believe that is who Barb refers to. They must be stopped.

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  2. I think that the use of the whip to such extreme lengths should be sanctioned Worldwide. I will go to You Tube and see if there is a film of that race. Elle

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