Ban the whip!

Horses are the only animals who may be beaten in public for entertainment. That is why Animal Aid has campaigned for some 15 years to ban the whip from racing in Britain.

A 2014 YouGov poll found that 70 per cent of all respondents oppose the use of the whip.

Furthermore, while whip apologists often argue that horses are thick-skinned animals who don’t feel pain when they are thrashed, recent research shows that the top layer of horse’s skin is thinner than ours and their pain-sensing nerves are closer to the surface. What’s more, related research demonstrates that horses are often struck with the hard part of the whip handle rather than the ‘cushioned’ end. Read more.

Between 2011 and 2012, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) revised the regulations on the use of the whip in racing. These were published after Animal Aid revealed that the old rules were being breached by jockeys almost 900 times each year.

Another key concern is that the regulations specifically sanction jockeys to whip their horses for ‘encouragement’ – in other words in an attempt to improve a jockey’s chance of winning. Unconvincingly, the BHA’s justification for allowing horses to be whipped on these grounds, is that it allows the animal to stay ‘focused and concentrated’. However, the reality is it allows jockeys to beat their mounts – when they are tired and struggling – in order to squeeze every last drop of effort from them.

Until there is a complete whip ban, Animal Aid is calling for the word ‘encouragement’ to be removed from the rules so that jockeys may use the whip only for extreme situations when safety is at risk as is the case in Norway where British jockeys ride without complaint.