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Whip Survey Reveals 74% Against

Income brackets influence opinions

Putting an end to whipping racehorses isn’t going to reduce public interest in the sport and or lead to a significant drop in the number of gamblers, recent study results suggest.

But overall, men were more likely than women to approve of whipping during a race, and lower-income populations were more likely to refuse to bet on races if authorities banned whipping, the Australian survey results revealed.

In their study of more than 1,500 Australian adults surveyed by an independent polling company, researchers found that 74% of respondents did not approve of whipping during a race and 90% would continue to watch and bet on racing if horses weren’t whipped.

The fact that only 13% would stop gambling on or attending whip-free events runs contrary to what authorities believed, said Paul McGreevy, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, MACVS (Animal Welfare), professor of animal behavior and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

“Insiders from the racing industry had advised us that punters (gamblers) were demanding whip use,” McGreevy said. “If this is the only reason to retain the whip in racing, it needs to be verified. And we have found that that is only true for a small minority of gamblers.”

McGreevy and his fellow researchers from Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. collected data from Australian racing enthusiasts using an internet-based survey.

Horseracing is the second most popular spectator sport in Australia, just behind soccer.

The survey collected demographic information and responses to three questions:

Thinking now about horse racing (including Thoroughbred racing/gallops, and harness racing/trots), do you think horses should be hit with a whip in the normal course of a race?

Answer option:Yes / No

In the last 12 months, how often have you watched and/or bet on a horse race?

Answer option:Not at all / Once or twice (e.g. the Melbourne Cup) / At least once a month / At least once a week

(Only for people who did not answer “not at all” in the previous question) If the rules did not allow any horses to be hit with a whip (except in emergency/safety situations), would you continue to watch and/or bet on horse races?

Answer option:Yes / No

The results revealed that, regardless of age, income, or horseracing involvement, men were more likely than women to support whipping in a race, McGreevy said.

He and colleagues explained that this is “not surprising” given that “men are approximately eight times more likely to engage in violence generally than women and that most animal crime offenders are male,” they stated.

As for the 13% answering “no” to the last question, this statistic represented primarily men and women in the lowest income bracket.

Gamblers in this category could be more vulnerable to financial discomfort if their selected horses lose a race, the researchers said, and they might believe that whipping would push their favourite horses to their full limits to ensure every chance of a win.

“We ignore violence to animals at our peril,” McGreevy said. “It can tell us a lot about ourselves.”

Understanding the market consequences of whipping (or its abolishment) is critical in making informed, ethical decisions about using animals for sport, McGreevy said.

“Do we applaud the whipping of tired horses that have no more to offer?” he said. “Does racing depend on whipping? If the answer to these is no, then we should adopt the Norwegian model (all whipping prohibited) as a matter of urgency.”

The study, “Flogging tired horses: Who wants whipping and who would walk away if whipping horses were withheld?” was published in PLoS ONE.

-From thehorse.com, by Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

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6 comments on “Whip Survey Reveals 74% Against

  1. Chris Swart says:

    I’m all out for a jockey pushing a horse out and getting the maximum out of it.
    To me the horse will either respond to the whip or not and at times it does correct and straighten horses up to prevent impeding others

    The ride on The Goon Show recently would have the pro hands lobby using this as a prime example.
    Eight smacks inside the final stages to get up and beat Fake News
    I’m not sure if that appeared in the stipes report but it certainly gives ammunition to a group that don’t really take the Punter with his money on the winner into account.
    I’m well aware the crop makes more noise than pain but watching that head on wasn’t good for racing

  2. kenzo says:

    The question was biased anyway.

  3. Ian Jayes says:

    There is a place for the whip in race riding, but it should be used circumspectly. Good jockeys do not flog horses and the Stipes must accept that not whipping a horse does not mean the jockey is not trying. They would all give better “hands and heels” rides if they all rode with longer stirrups. The Australians are inconsistent. If using a whip on a horse is animal abuse, what would one call making a horse run unnaturally like a camel as they do with harness racing.

  4. Malcolm Draper says:

    Interesting to a sociologist of non-violent horsemanship. I can do a story about the shock A Div win by Canyon Creek in 1984 when I was an assistant trainer to Basil JBK Cooper and the jock was instructed to sit still and not use the whip.

    There has been an experimental rule change in polo in Argentina:

    3) The whip can not be used unnecessarily or excessively.
    A player shall not:
    (1) Use his whip except in exceptional circumstances, or when the ball is out of play or dead. If he does so, he will be penalized, as a minimum, with a half field penalty and/or with any disciplinary sanction that the referee considers.
    (2) Intentionally striking another player or riding another polo player with his whip.
    In this case, the whipping rule is replicated to continue unifying the regulations worldwide

    The Whip in Racing
    Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Monty’s textbook, From My Hands to Yours

    To do a dissertation on the whip in racing, I feel the first thing a horseman should say is, “It does not matter whether it’s racing or any other discipline, the whip is the whip.”

    Equus, the flight animal, is about 50 million years old. If you accept the discovery by Dr. Louis Leakey of Lucy in the Olduvai Gorge, then humans are approximately 3.2 million years old. We must conclude then that horses got along just fine without human beings for 47 million years. We are quick, however, to use the term “problem horse,” a quite pompous statement from a species so junior.

    A scientific fact is that horses are flight animals and, as the reader knows, they only have two goals in life (survival and reproduction). Horses do not often think strongly about reproduction during a race, which leaves us with only one facet of a horse’s existence, his goal to survive. Consider for a moment that we are human beings dealing with horses under circumstances extremely demanding and frightening to them.Knowing that they are vitally concerned with their own survival, we often conclude that the best course of action is to whip them and cause them pain in the hopes that it will get them to run faster.

    I submit that this is not only a bad decision from a humane standpoint, but a worse decision where its effect is concerned. Horses are “into-pain” animals. Their natural tendency is to push into pressure, like a child does biting on hard bread when cutting teeth. We may frighten a horse the first few times we whip him in a race, but very soon he may resent the whip and back-up to it, actually causing him to run more slowly.

    You so often hear the statement, “We need the whips for safety’s sake,” but, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth, because far more accidents are caused by whips than are ever averted by whips. In fact, if a jockey felt the need for a whip to guide the horse, why not use a spongy, Nerf whip so that no pain could be produced?

    In a recent conversation with Trevor Denman (a race announcer at the Santa Anita race track), he said to me that he felt it would be a good idea if every time there was a disqualification, the newspaper should read that, “the horse ducked from the whip and interfered with the progress of another horse and was thus disqualified.” Trevor suggested that an extremely high percentage of disqualifications were caused by using the whip. Further, he said that if the bettors could understand that, they would be less apt to insist that jockeys use the whips to verify that they are trying.

    Aside from whether it is effective or not, let us examine for a moment how we stand with the rest of the world on this issue. Nearly all the racing countries of the world are dealing with the issue of the whip in ways that suggest it will soon be obsolete. I believe Great Britain is down to five strikes now, while Sweden has restricted the use of the whip severely, and, I think, only in front of the girth. In Germany, it is interesting to note that all two-year-olds are ridden only with a soft Nerf whip, which is handed to the jockey as he leaves the weighing room. The United States is virtually the only country to fail to act on what has become an important issue to race fans the world over.

    The third facet, and possibly the most important, is in the area of public perception. We, in racing, need to be pro-active. We need to realize that many potential race fans abhor the use of the whip and are turned off by our sport. What if we had whipless racing? Someone would be first, someone would be last and someone would be in the middle, exactly as it is with the whips. As for finding the genetic aptitude for racing, would you not prefer the winning horse to run out of a natural desire, rather than running from pain? And, wouldn’t we be more acceptable to our audience?

    I believe the number of race fans would increase with a strong promotional program featuring whipless racing. As racehorse people, we often say we are giving the horse a chance to do what he loves best, run. I believe that is a true statement, but if it is what he loves best, why do we have to whip him to do it? We do not.

    It is my opinion that the best jockeys would still be the best jockeys, and in fact, true horsemanship skills would come to the front if we were to eliminate whipping.

    An Interesting Fact:
    Barbaro ran the last 1/4 mile of the Kentucky Derby with the fastest time over that 1/4 mile since Secretariet without ever feeling the whip of jockey Edgar Prado.
    Prado never touched Barbaro with his whip, never asked him to do anything more than was necessary. His gentle handling of Barbaro had more to do with humane rather than competitive considerations, Prado says. “If he’s running real hard, why should he be punished?” he says. “I’m a horse lover more than anything else.”

    I sincerely believe that the buggy whips used at the starting gate cause far more trouble than good. I have spent a good deal of my life studying equine behavior at the starting gate and I am absolutely convinced that the elimination of the whip would actually make life easier for the starting-gate crews.

    People love animals, and we are supposed to be a civilized species. Is it not time for us to consider changing some of our retained barbaric ways? We have stopped lashing prisoners and whipping small children. Is it not time that we stopped whipping our horses, flight animals, who have no intention to hurt anyone? My goal is to leave the world a better place than I found it—for horses and people too. Racing could lead the horse industry in this truly important area of humane treatment.

  5. Malcolm Draper says:

    A student of Roberts’s concepts, Hong Kong’s leading rider and 7-time winner of the Jockeys Championship Trophy, Douglas Whyte, said “I still believe I can get more out of a horse by encouraging them rather than punishing them. My job is to win the horse’s confidence and to get them to run to their best for me.”

  6. We can talk all day about public opinion and invent questions to sway the debate one way or another. Ultimately the talk must stop and the consequences of no whips must be tested in the real world. I’ve got really nauseas listening to this debate now, it needs some action in one way or another. It’s time to have a few no whip races on cards for a long period in order to put the debate to bed and see what happens. Is anyone prepared to make that happen?

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