What’s in a whip? Pain, or encouragement? Authorities and scientists are about to beat each other with sticks over this issue. Australian equitation scientists have recently published a steaming review of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) 2011 report, Responsible Regulation: A Review of the Use of the Whip in Horseracing. “On the one hand, they say (whipping is) pain-free; on the other, they say it works. But they don’t describe how it works,” says Paul McGreevy, BVSc, Ph.D., MRCVS, MACVS (Animal Welfare), Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science at the University of Sydney. “And that doesn’t fit into any framework of learning theory that we can understand.”
Meanwhile, the BHA’s Robin Mounsey replies: “There is no veterinary evidence at all to suggest that horses' welfare is being compromised on account of weaknesses in our rules governing use of the whip.”
For McGreevy though, as riders are allowed to hit horses with whips at all, it’s intolerable cruelty. “Horse whipping is arguably the most public and visible form of violence to animals,” he says.
Whip Use in Horse Racing Debated | Farms.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.farms.com/news/whip-use-in-horse-racing-debated-90069.aspx