At the most recent Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission meeting held in Truro, Nova Scotia on July 20, 2019, it was unanimously agreed to pass new urging rules.
The new rule aligns the APHRC with two other jurisdictions in Canada – Ontario and Hippodrome 3R – as well the efforts by Standardbred Canada and the Rules of Racing Committee led by Co-chairs Dan Gall and John Campbell, who should be recognized to help bring the industry closer across all provinces which will benefit not only participants but patrons as well. The APHRC is committed to the health and welfare of the equine athlete as well as safety measures for all participants.
Below is how the new urging rule reads within Atlantic Canada. The new rule will be implemented starting on August 1, 2019 and will be fully enforced by Old Home Week, the region’s signature event where thousands of visitors attend each year. The APHRC Judges will hold information sessions at each racetrack to review the new rule with drivers.
313. At any time while on the grounds of a licensed facility, it is a violation of the Rules for a driver, or the person in control of the horse, to engage in any of the following actions with respect to their driving conduct:
Indiscriminate action, which is characterized by unrestrained or careless activity;
Excessive action, which is characterized by unreasonable quantity or degree, including using the whip continuously and/or without allowing the horse time to respond;
Aggressive action, which is characterized by inhumane, severe or brutal activity.
The whip shall not be used on a horse in a race:
Where the horse is not visibly responding; or
Where the horse is not in contention for a meaningful position;
Where the horse is not maintaining or improving its position;
Where the horse is clearly winning;
Where the horse has passed the winning post at the finish of a race.
At any time while on the grounds of a licensed facility, the whip shall only be used for safety purposes and for very light encouragement. The only movement allowed to encourage a horse is a movement of the wrist.
It is a violation of the Rules for a driver, or the person in control of the horse, to use the whip to hit or make contact with the horse as follows:
To raise their hand(s) above their head;
To use more than acceptable wrist action;
To cause any portion of the whip to be outside the confines of the wheels of the race bike;
To strike the shaft of the race bike, or the horse below the level of the shaft of the race bike;
To cut or welt a horse.
A driver, or the person in control of the horse, is required to:
Keep a line in each hand for the entire race, from the starter’s call to the gate until the finish of the race, except for the purpose of adjusting equipment;
Keep both hands in front of their body;
Keep their hands below their head; and
Have control of their horse at all times when on the racetrack.
** Only black whips will be permitted.
New Urging Violation Penalty Structure
Rule 314. The penalty for any offence against Rule 313, within the same calendar year shall be assessed in accordance with the following penalty schedule:
For the first offence assess a $100.00 fine.
For the second offence within the calendar year assess a $150.00 fine and shall be required to meet with Judges.
3rd offence: $200.00 fine and one day driving suspension and shall be required to meet with Judges.
4th offence: $300.00 fine and four day driving suspension and shall be required to meet with Judges.
5th offence: $400.00 fine and six day driving suspension and shall be required to meet with Judges.
After each 300 drives within the same calendar year, the next offence shall be assessed as if it is the first in accordance with the penalty schedule outlined above.
After any driver commits more than five (5) offences in the same calendar year the Commission shall review the matter and an appropriate penalty may be assessed in accordance with the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission Rules and Regulations
** Drivers will start out with a clean slate come August 1.