With 66% of Australians believing the use of whips should be banned in horse racing*, RSPCA Australia is calling on racing authorities to acknowledge and meet the expectations of the majority of Australians and end whip use.
Although changes to national whip rules were recently announced, there are no changes to the way horses can be whipped on every stride in the last 100 metres, the point in the race when the horse is already exhausted.
RSPCA Australia Chief Executive Officer Heather Neil said top performance horses need great genetics, great preparation and great horsemanship - whipping does not come into it.
“Whipping is unnecessary with evidence showing that whipping does not increase a horse’s chance of placing,” said Ms Neil.
A horse can feel a fly landing on its skin, so repeated striking with a whip in the same area of the body has the potential to cause localised trauma and tissue damage, the extent of which will increase with the force of the strike and the number of repetitions.
“The solution to the cruelty of whips is clear: racing rules need to be amended to allow for hands and heels races, where a whip can be carried by jockeys but not used in the normal course of the race,” said Ms Neil.
“Other nations have already moved away from whip use and allow horses to be ridden in hands and heels races. It’s time for racing authorities in Australia to follow this lead and meet modern social expectations.
“Without whips, horse will still win races, and the party can continue,” said Ms Neil.
Australians are encouraged to join the RSPCA in calling for this to be the last Melbourne Cup with whips, so the race that stops the nation can be the race to stop whipping too: www.rspca.org.au/whips
*McCrindle Research 2015