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Whip Essentially Phased Out In Five Years?

Published: April 20, 2010 2:18 pm ET

Last Comment: April 27, 2010 10:12 am ET | 9 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

What would your response be if someone told you that horse racing would outlaw the use of the whip for anything but corrective purposes within the next five years?

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the idea, one of Europe's former leading horse racing administrators believes that major racing nations will phase out everything except the corrective use of the whip by 2015.

Last week at the 2010 Asian Racing Conference in Sydney, Australia, the respected International Federation of Horseracing Authorities Chairman, Louis Romanet, was speaking in a panel debate on animal welfare.

"Public perception about using the whip to improve a horse's placing will lead to restriction in its use to prevent accidents, in the case of, say, a horse swerving," Romanet was quoted as saying.

"It will require taking decisions and then teaching young people coming in through the various racing schools. But I think it will happen within five years.

"It's similar to the process for applying non-medication rules in racing, which has to be done gradually and through education."

April 27, 2010 - 10:12 amThank you for your insight

Thank you for your insight Imeson but you are bouncing off of a few entirely different issues . Safety of participants, takeout and public perception of violence/cruelty. Let me just ask one question about public perception and violence. Why do people come out in droves to watch UFC matches where grown men attempt to decapitate each other but we can't snap the whip off the shaft of the bike with one hand while keeping the bit in the horses mouth giving the equine athlete his "cue". One handed whipping is all about public perception - of the bettor - the horses are not going any faster with hands in the grips, but the wagering dollar sure is. It has been said before - ENFORCE the rules don't change them. If you want to hack and slash at something that is not going anywhere, go cut down a tree.

April 26, 2010 - 3:44 pmOther professional sports

Imeson Helen SAID...

Other professional sports have improved as to the safety of the players such as heavy penalties for high sticking and boarding in hockey, or kidney punches in boxing. Have these sports gone downhill in the betting arena because "KILL HIM" is no longer Vogue? I don't think so!
Are we saying that the horse is not a part of this sport team. He is not a machine, he hurts when abused. How can he give his best out of fear. Anyone who has really studied this magnificent animal should understand the whip can be used as a GENTLE PURSUADER or CUE not as a beating stick and stil get great results.
Let's move ahead with these sports and think of the safety of all participants.

Honestly folks - bettors are going to bet on earthworm races if you give them good odds.

April 25, 2010 - 5:14 pmGood idea! --- phase

Good idea! --- phase something out in half a decade that's been essentially bred into the horse for a quarter millennium.

April 23, 2010 - 8:39 amThere have been a few times

john thomas SAID...

There have been a few times where I have said, I have to look up to see if a driver was fined for that whipping job on a horse. Some of it looks like punishment to the horse because the driver is frustrated his horse is not advancing.

It's these drivers who should just be given the boot.

That being said, if they ban the whip I will just quit following harness racing altogether. I was weaned on harness racing and love it. Unfortunately over the past few years it has become incresingly boring and I tend to gravitate away from anything WEG puts out.

April 22, 2010 - 11:55 pmI couldn't agree with you

I couldn't agree with you more, Myles, that we need bettors, not just fans. Of course it would be ideal if all people could be both, like many of us, but that just isn't realistic.It irks me to no end the amount of ignorance I see from some of the regulars (mostly small potato bettors)that know so little about what is taking place before their eyes during a race, think every race is fixed, and are wanting the driver to slash away with all his might, or he is not trying. I suspect (and hope) that is not true of most racetrack patrons, who are knowledgeable enough to know that you can't flog a dead horse.
I am quite certain that professionals and successful big bettors know the difference.

I put plenty of money through the windows at the racetracks, and have always said that we need to always be pushing the wagering part of horseracing, and this is where our advertising dollars should go. We need to attract people to BECOME BETTORS armed with knowledge and confidence in the game.

I don't think that most people disagree that whipping should be deminished greatly. The biggest problem we have is with the rule as it now stands that punishes bettors for backing a horse that probably would have won anyway had he not been beaten silly, or that was hardly touched and is placed back because a driver has his hands out of the holds inadvertantly. Basically all we want is common sense. Follow up with the original good intent that brought the rule in, don't corrupt it by punishing the innocent.

Harness racing has much bigger issues than whipping. The public confidence in it's integrity is gone, takeouts are much too high, competition for the gambling dollar is bringing it to calamitous depths, and it is divided and almost conquered. We need drastic changes immediately if it is to survive, and the whipping rule is just a drop in a bucket with a gaping hole in it.

April 22, 2010 - 9:09 amHow has the modified

Tim Bates SAID...

How has the modified whipping rule affected the participation in viewing and wagering? The first of April WEG lowered its purses, is there any other indicators? Perhaps the wagering information on the home page of this site, drop of almost 10% YTD.

April 21, 2010 - 5:33 pmThe question still remains

The question still remains Dante, do we want those people as fans. What we need is gamblers as Joe stated. Fans of the sport don't bring in dollars to help purses, gamblers do. I was green about horseracing out of high school a long time ago and all they had to do was explain why they did what they did as far as whippping goes. It was a good enough explaination, but I will agree as others everywhere have stated, some drivers go to far. They need to be corrected severly in the pocket book first and them in vacation days. After that they need to be booted from the sport. That's an easy solution in my eyes.
Bottom line is I'd rather see harness racing disappear with whipping than have to walk away because we want to pander to the lowest common denominator and water down the sport. If they don't like the whipping, we don't want you!!

April 20, 2010 - 5:40 pmIf we are sincere about

If we are sincere about reaching out to new fans, and making horse racing more humane, the barbaric, archaic tradition of lashing at the horse has to stop. This is the only true way to go forward, not with convoluted and subjective rules, but by honest and obvious steps forward.

This is the most common sense I've seen from the horse racing industry in quite some time. You'd be surprised how many "die-hard" harness racing punters like me would be in favour of this. I'm all for a kinder, gentler future for our great sport.

April 20, 2010 - 4:00 pmI have been watching racing

Joe Riga SAID...

I have been watching racing in Ontario, both thoroughbred and standardbred for over 30 years. During this time I have never heard anyone say they were not going to go to the track again or that they were going to quit watching racing because of the vilence commited to the animals. I would be the first to say I don't want to see a horse get abused. But let's call a spade a spade and call racing what it is. It is more about gambling then it is about show. Very very few people go to the track or watch racing on TV because they like to see the horses run around in circles. Racing always has been and will be about gamblers and gamblers want to know they are getting a top effort when they lay their money on a horse. While it may be true that whipping a horse may not in some cases better it's performance perception is everything to the gambler. If I don't feel I am getting an honest effort, of which whipping a horse is only one part of, then quite simply I won't bet my money. Why bother when I can bet on any other sport or card game etc. Also what risk does removing or restricting the use of a whip pose to the drivers or jockeys. Most drivers or jockey use the whip very responsibly. I can recall only a few times inmy years of watching racing when I might've been offended by how a driver or jockey was using a whip. Whips and other ways to control a horse should be available to both drivers and jockey since it is them that are at risk of serious injury if unable to control a horse.
If gamblers don't feel they are getting an honest and top effort this will all be a mute point. Gamblers are already leaving the track for other types of wagering in large amounts. If this trend continues tracks will not have to worry about this issue since there won't be any racing left to worry about.

Joe Riga


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