Whip Use by Jockeys in a Sample of Australian
Thoroughbred Races—An Observational Study
Paul D. McGreevy
*, Robert A. Corken
, Hannah Salvin
, Celeste M. Black
1Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
The use of whips by jockeys is an issue. The current study viewed opportunistic high-speed footage of 15 race finishes
frame-by-frame to examine the outcomes of arm and wrist actions (n = 350) on 40 horses viewed from the left of the field.
Any actions fully or partially obscured by infrastructure or other horses were removed from the database, leaving a total of
104 non-contact sweeps and 134 strikes. For all instances of arm actions that resulted in fully visible whip strikes behind the
saddle (n = 109), the outcomes noted were area struck, percentage of unpadded section making contact, whether the seam
made contact and whether a visible indentation was evident on impact. We also recorded use of clockwise or counter-
clockwise arm action from each jockey’s whip, whether the whip was held like a tennis racquet or a ski pole, whether the
hind leg on the side of the impact was in stance or swing phase and whether the jockey’s arm was seen traveling above
shoulder height. The goal of the study was to characterize the area struck and the visual impact of whip use at the level of
the horse. We measured the ways in which both padded and unpadded sections of the whip made impact. There was
evidence of at least 28 examples, in 9 horses, of breaches of the whip rules (one seam contact, 13 contacts with the head,
and 14 arm actions that rose above the height of the shoulder). The whip caused a visible indentation on 83% of impacts.
The unpadded section of the whip made contact on 64% of impacts. The results call into question the ability of Stewards to
effectively police the rules concerning whip use and, more importantly, challenge the notion that padding the distal section
of whips completely safeguards horses from any possible whip-related pain.
Citation: McGreevy PD, Corken RA, Salvin H, Black CM (2012) Whip Use by Jockeys in a Sample of Australian Thoroughbred Races—An Observational Study. PLoS
ONE 7(3): e33398. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033398
Editor: Colin Allen, Indiana University, United States of America
Received September 4, 2011; Accepted February 12, 2012; Published March 1 , 2012
Copyright: ß2012 McGreevy et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: The authors have no support or funding to report.
Competing Interests: The authors have read the journal’s policy and have the following conflicts: Paul McGreevy is a member of the Expert Advisory Panel –
Dog Advisory Council (UK) (2010 - Present), Scientific Advisory Panel: International Fund for Animal Welfare (2008 – Present), Scientific Advisor: RSPCA (UK) (2008 –
Present), Australian Animal Welfare Strategy Working Group (2008 – Present); Scientific Advisory Panel: World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) -
Equine Specialist (2003 – Present); International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) - Co-founder (2002 – Present), Scientific Advisory Panel: RSPCA (Australia)
(2001 – Present), International Society for Equitation Science: Hon. President (2011 – Present), Visiting Professor: Nottingham Trent University, UK (2010 – Present),
Adjunct Associate Professor: University of New England, Australia (2010 – Present), Editorial advisory board: The Veterinary Journal (2009 – Present), Editorial
board: Journal of Veterinary Behaviour (2005 – Present). This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.
* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whipping tired horses in the name of sport is becoming
increasingly difficult to justify . This view is supported by recent
evidence showing that, in races of 1200 m and 1250 m, whip use
was most frequent in the final two 200 m sections when horses
were fatigued . Further analysis of the same dataset revealed
that horses were more likely to be whipped in the penultimate
200 m section of races if ridden by apprentice rather than non-
apprentice jockeys and if drawn closer to the rail . Given that
horses further from the rail are known to have slower race times
, one would expect them to need more whipping (if, indeed,
whipping helps) to keep horses closer to the inside of the bend .
In a similar vein, the effectiveness of the whip in steering
racehorses has been brought into doubt, in NSW at least, by data
showing that handedness of riders, rather than direction of racing,
seems to be the primary driver as to which hand jockeys use to
carry the whip .
In Australia, the Australian Racing Board (ARB), representing
the Thoroughbred racing industry, has developed the Australian
Rules of Racing, and these rules are then adopted by state racing
authorities, such as Racing NSW, with the addition of local rules
of racing. Australian Rule (AR) 137A deals specifically with the
design and use of whips. Under the current whip rules (in place
since 2009), the general sub-rule provides that ARB Stewards may
penalize any rider who in a race, official trial, jump-out or
trackwork, or elsewhere uses his whip in an excessive, unnecessary
or improper manner (AR 137A(3)). Beyond this sub-rule, the
detailed rules concerning whip use provide that in the final
100 metres of a race, a rider may, subject to the other requirements of this
rule, use his whip at his discretion, subject to the other requirements of this rule
(AR 137A(5)(b)). In addition, the Stewards may penalize any rider
who in a race, official trial or jump-out uses his whip:
(a) forward of his horse’s shoulder or in the vicinity of its head; or
(b) using an action that raises his arm above shoulder height; or
(c) when his horse is out of contention; or
(d) when his horse is showing no response; or
(e) after passing the winning post; or
(f) causing injury to his horse; or
(g) when his horse is clearly winning; or
(h) has no reasonable prospect of improving or losing its position; or
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(i) in such manner that the seam of the flap is the point of contact with the
horse, unless the rider satisfies the Stewards that this was neither
deliberate nor reckless. (AR 137A(4))
The last of these elements is presumably difficult to police
because one has to be very close to the whip to know exactly how it
is aligned with the horse’s skin at the time of impact. It is of interest
because the padded whip has been promoted as being the solution
to welfare issues surrounding whip use. The ARB stipulates that
certain designs of padded whips for use in Australian racing
comply with the following specifications :
1. Maximum length of whip not exceeding 70 cm.
2. No binding within 18 cm of end of whip.
3. Minimum diameter of 2.5 cm.
4. Minimum length of pad not less than 18 cm for whips 60 cm in length or
for longer whips the flap length must not be less than 30% of the whip
5. The overall weight of the whip must not exceed 160 gm.
6. The contact area of the shaft (including pad) must be smooth with no
protrusion or raised surface.
7. The padded segment of the whip shall consist of a material approved by
Stewards that does not harden over time. Padded materials must be
8. Leather pads are not permitted.
9. The inner padded section shall consist only of closed cell foam of not less
than 7 mm (one side) in thickness.
10. The thickness of the outer pad can be no greater than 1 mm.
11. All whips must be dark in colour.
Of these, point 6 is of particular interest since it refers to the
‘‘contact area of the shaft (including pad)’’. This implies that
despite all the effort expended in padding the whip, there remains
an expectation that the shaft will make contact in unpadded
The padding is intended to absorb the impact of the whip as it
makes contact. However, several images have recently come to the
attention of the Australian press showing the whip indenting the
skin of the horse . The question of how common such visible
indentations are is therefore topical.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) makes the stipulation
that backhand position refers to a rotation that is clockwise from
the jockey’s perspective . There are no stipulations about how
the whip is to be gripped by the jockey’s hand, although this is
subject to some variation and may have implications for horse
comfort and welfare.
The distinction between forehand and backhand whip action is
critically important under the ARB’s Rules of Racing . The
ARB rule AR137A(5)(a) states that prior to the 100 m mark (i.e.,
100 m from the winning post):
(i) The whip shall not be used in a forehand manner in consecutive strides.
(ii) The whip shall not be used in a forehand manner more than on 5
(iii) The rider may at his discretion use the whip with a slapping motion
down the shoulder, with the whip hand remaining on the reins, or
alternatively in a backhand manner.
The Stewards of Australian Racing view head-on footage
retrospectively to police these rules. In contrast, the current study
explored opportunistic high-speed footage of the ends of 15 races
that could be viewed frame-by-frame to examine the area struck,
the percentage of unpadded section making contact, whether the
seam was making contact, and whether a visible indentation was
evident on impact. It also recorded: the use of clockwise or
counter-clockwise arm action; each of the jockeys’ whip grip (i.e.
whether the whip was held like a tennis racquet or a ski pole);
whether the hindleg on the side of the impact was in stance or
swing phase; and whether the jockey’s arm was seen traveling
above shoulder height.
Materials and Methods
High-speed footage of horses galloping at two meetings from
Gosford Racecourse in NSW was obtained opportunistically and
analyzed under the University of Sydney’s Human Research
Ethics Committee (approval number 11-2009/12299). The high-
speed camera was mounted at the level of the grandstand and was
fixed to cover the last 200 meters of the race. The lead horse was
followed as the group ran by.
Approximately the final 200 meters of each race was videoed
from the left side of the horses. Analysis of the saddlecloth numbers
and the horses’ placings confirmed that the meetings were at the
same track on the 9
(races 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and the 24th June
2011 (the first 8 races). The last race at the first meeting and the
last two races at the second meeting were not recorded, perhaps
due to failing light. Race 4 in the first meeting was also absent but
it is not clear why. The meetings were not exceptional in that they
were not part of a particular racing carnival with premium prize
money, so it was expected that the findings would be represen-
tative for whip use more generally in Australia. The two meetings
had slightly different track conditions: ‘‘dead’’ on the 9
‘‘slow’’ on the 24th. Prize money for all recorded races was
$10,400 for first place, $3,200 for second and $1,600 for third. The
average distances, numbers of starters and official times for all
recorded races were 1433 meters, 10.6 runners and 89 seconds,
Inspectors from RSPCA NSW were present at this track on the
June. In the 15 recorded races, Racing NSW Stewards
reported only one violation of the whip rules. On the 24
2011, ‘‘Apprentice S Lisnyy, the rider of Allandy [in Race 7], was fined
100 under Rule 137A(4)(c) for use of the whip when his mount was out of
All arm and wrist actions (n = 350) that led to whip movement
on the left side of the horse were analysed by two observers (both
of whom hold higher degrees in animal behavior) working
independently after being instructed to follow each horse as
identified by its saddle cloth and who were blinded to the other
observer’s scores. These actions were made by a total of 23 jockeys
on 40 horses. The timing of each action was recorded as the whip
made contact or, in the cases of non-contact sweeps, as it reached
the descent of its arc along the horse’s body. Each whip strike was
identified by the time of impact, according to the time stamp on
the video file. We excluded any whip use that was recorded by
either observer as obscured. Reasons for obscuring included:
obscured by other horses (n = 81), obscured by infrastructure such
as posts or signage (n = 4), obscured by the saddlecloth (n = 10),
blurred or in shadow (n = 7) or out of frame (n = 8). Actions that
led to impacts in two horses on the head (n = 10), ears (n = 3) and
neck/shoulders (n = 12) as recorded by both observers were also
not examined further. SPSS v18 (IBM Statistics, USA) was used to
conduct a pair-wise correlation on the two observers’ scores of
whip impacts to measure inter-observer reliability.
We used frame-by-frame analysis to examine the area struck
(percentile of whip that made contact with the abdomen,
percentile of whip that made contact with the hindleg or if the
whip struck another area of the body). We removed head, ear,
Whip Use by Australian Jockeys
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neck and shoulder impacts because whipping behind the saddle is
the focus of Australian rules surrounding whip use. The remaining
clear impacts on areas of the horse behind the saddle (n = 109)
then formed the focus of our analysis. They all were the result of
arm actions rather than wrist actions. For these, we scored the
percentage of unpadded section making contact (ten percentiles);
whether the seam of the padded section of the whip was making
contact (Y/N or ?); and whether a visible indentation was evident
on impact (Y/N or ?). We also recorded the use of clockwise or
counter-clockwise arm action from the jockeys’ perspective (CW or
CCW); each of the jockeys’ whip grip (whether the whip was held
like a tennis racquet, a ski pole, or using an intermediate grip:
racquet, ski-pole or intermediate); whether the hindleg on the side
of the impact was in stance or swing phase (swing or stance); and
whether the jockey’s arm was seen travelling above shoulder
Also listed was the incidence of whip impacts where both
observers had recorded 100% of the abdomen or .10% of the
abdomen being hit. Attributes of specific whip strikes (as specified
by the time of impact) for which there were discrepancies between
the scoring of Observer A and Observer B were excluded from the
total. This gave the number of specific whip strikes on which both
observers agreed. By dropping discrepancies, we corrected the
data so that inter-observer reliability was not an issue.
From a total of 350 rider/horse interactions, there were 134
whip impacts and 104 sweeping actions that did not make contact.
After removing impacts in areas not behind the saddle, 109 clear
impacts were identified (see example in Fig. 1). These actions were
made by a total of 21 jockeys on 31 horses. The attributes of fully
recorded whip impacts are summarized in Table 1.
Pearson’s correlation coefficients between observers’ scores for
percentage of the abdomen struck, percentage of the hindleg
struck and percentage of the unpadded section making impact
were r = 0.791 (P,0.001), r = 0.973 (P,0.001), and r = 0.217
(P = 0.023), respectively.
For data on arms seen traveling above the shoulder, the
Pearson’s correlation coefficient was r = 0.766 (P,0.001). How-
ever, for seam contact they were r = 0.017 (P = 0.861) and visible
indentation r = 0.077, (P = 0.430). For the hindleg phase attribute
(swing versus stance), there was insufficient variation for
correlation testing to be of use.
The putative expectation that the shaft will make contact in
unpadded sections has been borne out by the current findings. In
general, unpadded sections of the whip are more likely than not to
make contact with the horse. These data include contact made by
the binding that fixes the padded flap to the shaft of the whip.
Previous research has indicated that such binding (which in itself
cannot be padded) can increase the damage potential of whips
. This is an extremely important finding given the racing
industry’s description of the padded whip as the pain-free whip
. The padded whip is offering less protection than might be
expected in well over half of all strikes. It must be said that, being
closer to the jockey’s hand, the unpadded sections are therefore
traveling more slowly than the tip of the whip and so presumably
can do less damage on impact. However, being close to the
jockey’s hand means that the unpadded section is also more likely
to strike the abdomen than the hindleg (see later). This is troubling,
given that the skin of the abdomen is thought to be particularly
sensitive . Until the entire length of the shaft of the whip is
padded, the racing industry’s reliance on this device as a means of
assuring horse welfare must be questioned.
The current findings suggest that it is normal for the padded
whip to make visible indentations. Indentations occurred in more
than 80% of the impacts in the current sample. Comparative
studies in mice and humans have shown that deformation of the
skin is likely to be detected by cutaneous nociceptors .
However, equine data on cutaneous nociception are not available
so, it is not presently known if such stimuli are noxious in racing
horses, nor is it clear if inflammation occurs as a result of repeated
use of the whip. However, if the whip does lead to nociceptor
activation and if inflammation does occur under these circum-
stances, then concerns about the adequacy of current monitoring
of whip use during races are warranted.
Arguably, the prospect of a share in the prize money may incite
jockeys to hit horses hard. These meetings were at a provincial
track on days without exceptionally large prize money. Therefore,
it is unlikely that jockeys were more motivated than usual to strike
their horses. This study has produced evidence that indentations
such as that depicted in Fig. 1 are common. A scoring system for
the severity of indentations would be an ideal means of reporting
this quality of whip impact. However, given the current imaging
system and concerns about concordance between the current
observers using a binary system of reporting indentations, this
The current finding of impact from the unpadded shaft of the
whip is also of concern. Again, data specific to horses are not
available. A previous study on cats involving using an unpadded
flexible rod to deliver a noxious stimulus showed that cutaneous
and probably deeper (muscle) nociceptors were acutely activated
and that repeated application reduced the thresholds for
Figure 1. An example of the indentations occurring in more
than 80% of the impacts reported by the two observers for the
109 actions that resulted in an impact behind the saddle.
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nociceptor activation and enhanced the duration of their responses
. Any extrapolation from the rigid rod used on the cats to the
unpadded shaft of whip used on racing horses is speculative. But
again, if the whip does lead to nociceptor activation in horses and if
inflammation does occur under racing conditions, the current
finding of impact from the unpadded shaft of the whip is of concern.
Inflammation is well documented to reduce the thresholds for
nociceptor activation and to enhance the duration of their responses
(for review, see ). Whether nociceptor activation results in pain
perception is therefore a critical issue to be considered. If, akin to the
often cited ‘‘battlefield analgesia’’, the context of a race constitutes a
‘‘stressful’’ environment and stress-induced analgesia is invoked to
defend the use of a stimulus with the potential to produce pain, then
as identified in a recent letter to the editor of the journal Pain ,
there is a critical requirement for empirical evidence supporting this
view. If there is an anti-nociceptive/analgesic state during the race,
it begs the question that if the stimulus (the whip) has lost its salience,
then why use it at all? The need for empirical evidence is highlighted
further, given recent evidence that there is enhanced, rather than
reduced pain perception characterizing certain distinct stress-
related, affective states (e.g. , , , ).
Comparative studies suggest that repeated noxious stimuli may
result in ongoing reductions in the thresholds for activation of both
mechano-, thermo-, and nociceptive stimuli [14,21], a phenom-
enon first described in rats by Lewis more than 75 years ago .
The increased sensitivity of the receptors leads to enhanced pain
perception or even touch-evoked pain, and are understood as
adaptive responses which direct an organism’s behavior to
recovery mode, itself a critical component of the pain-injury
response continuum , . It has been observed both clinically
and experimentally that such changes in pain perception can in
certain circumstances persist (for review, see ). Thus the post-
race impact of whip use must form an important part of the
empirical evaluation of the painful effects of whip use.
The indentations around the whip strongly imply that the seam
of the padded section often makes contact with the horse’s skin.
However, on this matter, the rules of racing are concerned only
with the seam being the point of contact and even then only when
such contact was either deliberate or reckless. This presumably
means that the Stewards are concerned for the welfare of horses if
the seam, which is more resilient than other parts of the padded
whip and therefore more likely to damage the skin, is the first part
of the whip to strike the horse. Despite working with high-
resolution files (each 200 m section amounted to approximately
260 Mb) that had captured approximately 1000 frames per whip
cycle, in more than 99% of cases, it was not possible to see if the
seam was the first point of contact that the whip made with horse’s
skin. Given our difficulty, this information must be extremely
difficult, if not impossible, to discern using the Stewards’ high-
definition video footage, which operates to a maximum of 25
frames per second. This may explain why the number of times
breaches of the seam contact rule have ever been prosecuted since
the current rules were established is negligible. Another explana-
tion is that it may be difficult for the Stewards to adequately
demonstrate that any visible seam contact has been deliberate or
reckless. In the current study, the seam was considered the point of
contact only once. All other strikes were inconclusive. Therefore, it
is suggested that the seam rule is virtually impossible to police,
even using significantly more detailed footage than is usually
reviewed by racing Stewards, and its inclusion is therefore futile.
The two horses that were struck on the head and ears may be
anomalies among this dataset but they are also concerning, since
Table 1. Occurrence of each attribute reported by the two observers for the 109 actions that resulted in an impact behind the
Attribute Observer A Observer B
Number of specific
whip strikes on
as percentage of all
Only the unpadded section of the whip made contact 20 10 4 3.66
.10% of the unpadded section of the whip made contact 92 74 70 64.22
Visible indentation on impact 98 102 90 82.57
Seam was the point of contact 1 11 1
Only the abdomen struck 38 36 34 31.19
.10% of the impact struck the abdomen 94 85 82 75.23
Only the hindleg struck 18 24 15 14.76
.10% of the impact struck the hindleg 73 73 71 65.13
Clockwise whip use 13 8 3 2.75
Counterclockwise whip use 96 101 91 83.48
Whip grip – Racquet 22 23 20 18.35
Whip grip – Ski pole 78 78 76 69.72
Whip grip – Intermediate 9 8 8 7.34
Left hindleg in swing phase 107 109 107 98.17
Arm traveled above the shoulder 17 19 14
These data were drawn from videos taken from the outside of the track in 15 races over two meetings at the same clockwise racetrack. Unless otherwise stated, these
data represent information on 21 jockeys and 31 horses.
Observer A was unable to make a definitive decision on 99 occasions and Observer B on 30 occasions.
Data on 7 jockeys riding 7 different horses.
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they appear to represent a breach of the rules surrounding whip use.
These incidents should perhaps have been commented upon by the
Stewards but the quality of the footage they review may prevent
analysis of the standard reported here. One of the horses in question
was being ridden by a jockey who had stowed his whip in his right
hand with a racquet grip and had pushed his hands right up the
horse’s neck as he rode it home. Therefore, rather than being
wielded, the whip was flapping against the horse’s head and ears.
The second horse was struck on the padded cheek-piece of the
bridle. It is not clear whether this contact with gear would be of
interest to the Stewards in the spirit of the rule about whip use
forward of the horse’s shoulder or in the vicinity of its head.
The observers in this study agreed that the abdomen is twice as
likely to be struck with the entirety of the whip than is the hindleg.
This suggests that the abdomen rather than the leg is being targeted.
In its discussion of appropriate use of the whip, the Horse Racing
Authority (HRA, later to become the British Horseracing Authority)
 stated that ‘‘whips should only be used on the quarters with the whip in
either the backhand or forehand position or down the shoulder with the whip in the
backhand position’’. In veterinary nomenclature, the abdomen is not
regarded as part of the quarters. In effect, only a quarter of the whip
strikes in this study would be permitted under UK whip rules. It is
interesting that the quarters are not specified in the Australian Rules
of Racing. There is evidence from general equitation texts that the
inguinal and abdominal regions are particularly sensitive to tactile
stimulation , so in any attempt to optimize the welfare of horses
being whipped, it would be good to see more guidance to spare
horses from impact in these areas.
Arm action that was counter-clockwise from the jockey’s
perspective was far more common than clockwise arm action.
According to HRA stipulations, this suggests that backhand
whipping is uncommon. However, this stipulation is clearly flawed
since the hand in which the whip is being held will influence
whether it appears to travel clockwise or counter-clockwise when
viewed from the jockey’s perspective. The counter-clockwise
actions in the left hand, as reported here, are associated with
backhand whip use and clearly predominate. With the strong focus
on forehand action in the current Australian whip rules, it is
possible that the rules have inadvertently encouraged jockeys to
use backhand rather than forehand actions to avoid being
penalized. The preferred grip was holding the whip like a ski
pole. This is diagnostic of backhand whip use and therefore
confirms the predominance of a whip action that largely grants
immunity from the rules that limit the number of whip strikes and
the use of the whip with consecutive strides prior to the 100 m
mark (i.e., 100 m from the winning post). These data suggest that
the current focus on forehand whip use has lost some relevance
In this study of 109 impacts, the jockey’s arm was seen traveling
above shoulder height on 14 occasions. It is not clear how much, if
any, amplification in force that whipping from this height creates.
From the perspective of force and therefore pain, the recoil of the
whip may be more important than the height from which it
descends during its trajectory. Certainly, the bend in the whip was
considerable in many cases and this suggests stored energy that will
be released on impact with the horse. In almost all cases, the
hindleg on the side of the impact was in the swing phase when the
whip made contact with the horse. This aligns with good practice
in equitation science  since, in contrast with cueing the horse
to respond while its leg is supporting its bodyweight, this technique
is thought to increase the chances of the horse being able to
This study reports only left-handed whip use on 40 horses by a
total of 23 jockeys on a counter-clockwise course. It may be that
right-handed whip use differs, which is especially relevant since a
previous study has shown that the right hand is generally favored
by Australian jockeys . A larger study may be needed to explore
the extent to which these findings reflect whip use across Australia
and internationally. It would be useful to see high-speed cameras
used for all such studies. Despite the quality of the images derived
from the high-speed camera in the current study, inter-observer
reliability was only moderate for seam contact and visible
indentation, reflecting the difficulties in making definitive
observations, especially when horses are furthest from the camera.
There was evidence of at least 28 examples, in 9 horses, of
breaches of the whip rules (one seam contact, 13 contacts with the
head, and 14 arm actions that rose above the height of the shoulder).
There will be differences between what is reported here and the
official version of whip use at these two meetings, not least because
Racing NSW Stewards review footage recorded at fewer frames per
second and also because they view head-on footage. Head-on
footage is preferred by Stewards because it allows estimations of
whip use on both sides of the horses. However, for examination of
details such as seam contact, proportion of abdomen struck and
whip use forward of the horse’s shoulder or in the vicinity of its head, it may be
less useful than the lateral footage used in the current study.
None of the breaches detected herein was reported by the
Racing NSW Stewards. The only one violation of the whip rules
Racing NSW Stewards reported from the recorded 15 races, was
not recorded in the current series of arm and wrist actions because
the horse finished in tenth place and so was outside the current
study’s focus which was on footage of the leading horses in each
finish. The limitations on the ability of Stewards to detect and
therefore report breaches may raise concerns about horse welfare
if the whip rules are intended to ensure that horses are not
whipped unnecessarily. A similar standard is also employed in
animal welfare legislation in the other states. Ideally, high-speed
footage from both sides of the horses should be used in any optimal
bid to enforce the rules and safeguard horse welfare as proposed
by the ARB . That said, some impacts will even then be
obscured by other horses, and occasionally by infrastructure, as
was frequently the case in the current study.
High-speed footage of horses at the end of races reveals numerous
unreported breaches of the rules surrounding whip use and the
unpadded section of the whip making contact on 64% of impacts.
These results cast significant doubt on the current ability of Stewards to
effectively police the rules concerning whip use and, more importantly,
challenge the notion that padding the distal section of the whip
completely safeguards horses from any possible whip-related pain.
Conceived and designed the experiments: PDM. Performed the experi-
ments: PDM HS RAC. Analyzed the data: PDM RAC HS. Contributed
reagents/materials/analysis tools: HS. Wrote the paper: PDM RAC HS CB.
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