Barrieau, Jamieson On New Whipping Rule
Published: May 15, 2009 11:55 pm ET
Last Comment: May 22, 2009 11:02 am ET | 18 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
Multiple Maritime and Canadian driving champion Gilles Barrieau was crossing the wire a week ago at Exhibition Park Raceway - driving Wylde Cherry – touching the horse’s tail with his whip.
As soon as the race was over the judges called Barrieau – much to his surprise - to give him a $50 fine for having one of his reins slightly loose at the finish.
It’s part of a new rule put in place to reduce whipping, says Paul Hogan, director of the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission.
The rule now says drivers racing in P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick can no longer put both reins in one hand to have free movement of the other arm to use the whip. Drivers must now keep both hands in the hand holders (loops attached to the reins to give drivers better leverage and control of a horse) for the whole mile, and keep their reins tight at all times.
Hogan says efforts have been made to reduce the amount of whipping within the confines of the old rule – where drivers could use the whip with a free arm – but it wasn’t enough.
"Horsemen have done a very, very good job in the last three years in reducing the amount of whipping but there were still numerous complaints that we have been receiving."
Barrieau didn’t feel there was an issue with whipping.
"I didn’t think so. It didn’t seem that bad to me," Barrieau said. "I was never one to abuse one and I don’t mind keeping my hands on a line but it’s all the rules they have after that."
Due to that, Barrieau – a winner of over 3,000 races lifetime – says he’s giving up driving other people’s horses and he’s just going to drive the 12 horses he trains himself.
"I’m just not interested anymore. I come across the wire with a loose line and they nail me $50 so I am just not doing it anymore. It’s not that I don’t like (driving) but I just don’t like going out on account of that. I used to have fun doing it but it’s getting so it’s not. It’s no fun."
Leading Canadian driver and Truro, N.S., native Jody Jamieson thinks whipping is a non-issue.
"Absolutely not. We’ve made major changes to whipping and what it looks like and what kind of damage it does to a horse."
He says the problem is a perception issue. People see whipping but they don’t realize if it is done properly it doesn’t harm a horse. He says the racing commission is jumping the gun.
"I think what they’ve done down there is they’ve been a little premature, they haven’t thought things through," Jamieson said.
On the Saturday, May 9 race card at Exhibition Park, Barrieau would normally be driving in every race, but did he drive at all?
"Nope," Barrieau said. "That’s the reason really and I don’t miss it one bit. Until they change (the rule) I’m just not interested."
(By Nicholas Oakes, a journalism student at Holland College in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and a columnist with Atlantic Post Calls)