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If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we are not really living.
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Gail Sheely


The racing whip

There was a debate to day on radio 2 about the lowering of the number of times a jockey will be allowed to whip a horse during a race. Several callers were fore whip use, it doesn’t hurt them, it is needed for safety argument and several against as you would expect, generally saying it isn’t right to hit a human so it isn’t right to hit a horse.

I rang into say I think the supporters were missing the point and the anti’s were seeing the glass half empty

The fores

Why is equitation the only “sport” that allows physical pain to be inflicted in full public view without question. If we saw people whipping a dog in a show class or electric collars on racing greyhounds there would be an out cry. Yet the overriding view of horses must be that it is alright to beat them, because we allow it to continue. A dog trainer on the one show used dominance based methods of training not physical force and the out cry was such that he has, I understand, been axed and the show apologised. Racing would be better off without the whip for three reasons 1. more support from the public, same as the ban on killing the fox has increased the number of people hunting 2. the horses would win or loose on their skill and athletic ability so training and blood line selection would improve, meaning better faster horses and less waste of horses that were not good enough to compete. 3. It would be harder to fix races, (yes it does happen!) the industry would be come cleaner and better supported.

The against

Actually, at least racing regulates the use of the whip, and investigates misuse and gives punishment to offending jockeys. They have introduced a padded airwhip to reduce the severity of the blow, and reduced the number of times it is allowed to hit a horse. I am not saying that makes it ok just they are moving in the right direction and should be acknowledged for that. One day whips will be banned in racing that is clear it is only a matter of when not if. But what about the use of the whip in dressage, show jumping, hunting, pony club and gymkhanas? Do I hear an outcry about the use of the whip to school the horse or the BHS instructor that openly advocates the use of the whip during lessons to “educate”? No I don’t, because it is that part of the equestrian industries dirty little secret hidden from most of the public and accepted by the unknowing rest that it is ok to hit horses to train them. Don’t anyone tell me in justification it is just a learning aid or my horse is not afraid of the whip, that’s a different debate. I am talking about the use of the whip, a thin schooling whip or a riding crop to smack, hit, force or control the horse. All these other governing bodies should be called on to follow horse racing example and to regulate for the use of the whip and enforce it or they should be banned altogether.

I am sorry if I offend anyone but it is my firmly held personal belief that whips, spurs, harsh bits and pressure halters hold back the development of humane horsemanship. While relying on these outdated tools it is impossible to invent better ways to work and communicate with these amazing creatures. The whip is not needed, it is an artificial crutch that needs to be removed and the sooner we accept this the sooner be can move on to better things. 

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