A hiding to nothing: the use of the whip in British horse racing

Animal Aid produced a meticulously researched report, A Hiding to Nothing, which shows that not only is whipping cruel, but that horses who are whipped perform less well.

In response, the Jockey Club (the then ruling body) acknowledged that ‘more races are lost rather than won through use of the whip.’

The report also shows that horses in a state of total exhaustion and out of contention were beaten. The whip was used on the neck and shoulders, as well as on the hindquarters. Some horses were whipped 30 or more times during a race. Though the rules were breached numerous times, regulatory stewards took no action.

In light of these findings, Animal Aid is baffled as to why the whip has not been banned.

As part of our call for a ban on the use of the whip, we stage demonstrations at racecourses across the UK. A PVC-clad dominatrix invites punters to offer their own rumps for a whipping to see how they like it.

Says Animal Aid’s Horseracing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

‘Using pain in an effort to control an animal is morally repugnant to anyone with respect for animals. The evidence shows, in any case, that such violence is counter-productive in terms of safety and in producing winners.’

There is an evocative account of whip use given by the owner of a young filly in a letter to the Racing Post. Wrote Jasmine Chesters:

‘When she came out for her first race this year, the only words I can use are that she was thrashed. Not by other horses, but by her jockey. She was hit at least 12 times inside the last furlong and a half, and finished third. Her rider was suspended for two days but the harm he did to my horse was incalculable.

She has never run the same since. She breaks well but on reaching about the four-furlong pole, when she is nearly always in the first four or five, as soon as she is smacked to push her on, she drops herself out. Her emotions must be in turmoil. She must be expecting to be thrashed again. We have nursed her all season but to no avail. Now I have to make the decision as to what to do with her.’

Animal Aid wants to see a total ban on the use of the whip in horse racing.

This special Animal Aid report is based on a meticulous analysis of 161 races that were run between October and November 2003.

The results clearly demonstrate that not only is whipping cruel – it is pointless.

“…what stands out in this race is the whipping of Teyaar by McCabe. His 21 strikes in this five furlong race is totally unacceptable and should have seen action from the stewards. The winner was not whipped.”

Thursday 16th October 2003, Southwell 3.35pm

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