The posters are illustrated to make the comparison between beating a horse and beating a dog – and read:
You wouldn’t hit a dog, so why are jockeys allowed to whip horses?
Several London bus routes will run the adverts, including those running through the centre of London.
In 2018, there were 548 breaches of the whip by 269 jockeys – the third successive year that offences have risen.
Animal Aid is calling for the rules to be amended so that riders may carry the whip only for safety purposes – this is the situation in Norway. When riding there, British jockeys abide by the Norwegian rules without problems.
In British racing, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has consistently failed to bring jockeys under control or to take the welfare of horses seriously when it comes to the whip. In an attempt to stem criticism and hold onto their power, the BHA has created a Horse Welfare Board in order to try and deflect Animal Aid’s call for a truly independent welfare regulator, without any links to the racing industry. This arose after Animal Aid’s campaign on this issue saw more than 105,000 people sign a government e-petition leading to a debate on horse welfare in Parliament in 2018.
Banning the whip for so-called ‘encouragement’ has the support of the RSPCA which states: ‘Whips should never be used except for genuine safety purposes’.[i] A 2018 YouGov poll on the whip revealed that 68% of respondents either oppose (30%) or strongly oppose (38%) the use of the whip in racing.[ii]
Says Fiona Pereira, Campaign Manager at Animal Aid:
‘Clearly the sanctions against jockeys who break the rules are not working. We believe that riders will make a calculated assessment of whether it’s worth it to break the rules in the pursuit of prize money and placement. A two-day ban is probably thought of as a drop in the ocean if they feel that the prize is worth it.
‘We also see repeat offenders who are undeterred by the lenient punishment system. Add to this the issue of Stewards’ Discretion, which may allow offences to go unpunished and you have a system where horses are being beaten with the full blessing of the very regulator whose role is supposed to be to safeguard the welfare of the horses.
‘Horse racing is the only sporting activity in Britain which permits the hitting of animals. Can you even imagine trying to justify someone hitting an animal or person for “encouragement” in any other context? It just goes to show how out of touch the racing industry is with a modern, compassionate society.’
Notes to Editor:
- See photos of the adverts, below.
- See the whip statistics from 2018 here
- Read A Hiding to Nothing – Animal Aid’s definitive report that demonstrates that hitting horses has no effect on placement.