Huge disappointment as British Horseracing Authority fails to ban the whip 

Posted on the 12th July 2022

Animal Aid, along with other animal protection groups, have expressed anger and disappointment at the results of the long awaited, and delayed, review of the use of the whip in horse racing.

Yesterday, the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) whip consultation steering group published its Whip Consultation Report. The 95-page report promises little to improve horse welfare and is a lost opportunity to effectively protect race horses.

Scientific studies have shown that horses experience pain in much the same way that humans do and that the whip does not offer an advantage within racing. This, combined with the obvious cruelty of beating an animal in the name of ‘sport’ has resulted in a strong public opposition to the whip in racing.

Groups that the BHA once considered allies are now openly criticising the regulator.

In response to the new Whip Report, the RSPCA stated:

‘After such an important review, and given the mountain of evidence of the harm done to horses, it is astonishing that the BHA could conclude that it is acceptable to continue to allow the whip in racing for purposes of so-called encouragement. It amounts to a failure of leadership by the regulatory body.’

And World Horse Welfare’s view is:

‘… we believe that the recommendation on whip use “to be used in a backhand position only,” while welcome, does not go far enough. We are clear that we want to see a move away from the use of the whip for ‘encouragement’ in horseracing on both welfare and ethical grounds.  We simply do not believe its use is justified, especially in light of what we now know about what makes a good horse-human partnership.’

Ask your MP to take action

Recent polling undertaken by Animal Aid showed that 72% of people are in favour of a ban on the whip in racing. It is truly shocking that the racing industry has chosen to ignore all of these factors and that they continue to defend its use!

We asked the London public what they thought about using the whip in horse racing…

 

Dene Stansall, Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant stated:

‘We are extremely angered and disappointed by this result. It appears that the welfare of horses and overwhelming public opinion have been completely ignored by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), in coming to this conclusion. The BHA, and those responsible for this result should be ashamed. The use of the whip in racing is disputed by science, public opinion, and common decency and only a ban on its use would have been the correct outcome today.  

The penalty structures put in place by the BHA are ineffective in preventing the abuse of horses. We call on the BHA to reconsider their decision and we will continue to stand up for horses and to apply pressure to the racing industry.’ 

  • The BHA’s Whip Review findings and recommendations can be read here.
  • Animal Aid recorded 248 whip offences by jockeys between 1 January and 30 June 2022. The corresponding figure for 2021 was 241 breaches.
  • Find out more about Animal Aids horse racing campaigns.

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