Research reveals loophole in whipping rules

 

Fig 1 bA Sydney University study has exposed a loophole in whipping rules which may inadvertently encourage jockeys to use a whip in a way that causes more harm.

The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, analysed both forehand and backhand whipstrikes of jockeys in Victoria.

Under the Australian Racing Board’s Rules of Racing, jockeys are limited in using forehand whip strikes. Forehand whipstrikes may not be delivered in consecutive strides nor on more than five occasions before the final 100 metres. However, backhand strikes are permitted without reservation – as long as the horse is in contention.

According to the paper, “this seems to imply that backhand whip use is less closely scrutinised, which may have profound implications for horse welfare.”

Lead investigatory Professor Paul McGreevy said that approximately 70 per cent of whip use is backhand – and thus immune to limitations under the 2009 ARB rules.

A previous study by the same team found that whip strikes caused a visible indentation in 83 per cent of impacts, and the unpadded section of the whip made contact with the horse in 64 per cent of cases.

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