Race of the Week 2017

The Whip...A Tool or Flogging Device?

The sport of Thoroughbred horse racing used to be a sport of great pride, but now it has fallen from grace. In an attempt to regain its glory and avoid any black eyes those who actually are in the know, and know what is what, have begun to needlessly appease those who are clueless to what really goes on. Some issues need to be fixed, the overuse of drugs, the breeding of brittle horses need to be addressed and fixed, but some issues are just plain ridiculous. One such issue is the issue on banning whips from racing.

Whips have been a part of the sport ever since the birth of Racing. They are a needed tool in not just racing but many other disciplines of riding. Dressage riders carry around a much longer whip, while hunter/jumpers carry crops that are of many sizes, but none nearly as long as dressage whips. The group, PETA, is made up of some people who are relatively reasonable, who know the difference between correction and beating, but those who advocate for the repeal of whips are radical who should garner no attention.

In racing a jockey has very minimal tools when riding these 1,000lbs+ animals that are traveling at speeds in excess of 30mph. They have their reins and their stick that is virtually it. They do have some use of legs, but that is extremely minimal because of how short the stirrups are. In other discipline, riders ride with much longer stirrups and have much more use of their seat, both tools that work far better than reins, because a rider’s leg can more accurately influence the direction the rider wants the horse to move. Reins can actually do more damage than help and that is simply because of a horse’s anatomy. Because of their great body length if you pull a horse’s head to the left, their body is more likely to move right. If you are going 35mph and try to pull your horse hard one way, it can knock them off balance. For a jockey the whip represents the leg they cannot use.

PETA likes to portray jockeys as evil people who beat a tired racehorse all the way down the stretch, and while there are some bad eggs, you will see that for the most part that is just not true. If a horse is truly done and beaten, a jockey will put away the whip and do the minimal amount of effort required. They like to point out races like last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and the 2009 Woodward to support their argument that jockey’s needlessly “flog” horses. What they fail to mention is that both jockeys were carrying the new foam popper whips. These whips are longer than a traditional bat, but they have two six inch foam pads at the end, that make a loud popping noise when it hits the horse’s rump. However, because of the foam there is no sting.

If racing wants to improve its image and is dead set on coming up on a way to make whipping more “humane” looking, then I would suggest that tracks ban the traditional leather bats and promote the foam poppers. It is a perfect compromise, at least on this issue. Jockeys are still able to carry around a much needed tool, while if fed to the public, should promote that the connections involved in racing have the horse’s best interests at heart.
Photo by Horsephotos.com


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Older Comments about The Whip...A Tool or Flogging Device?...

vic, some horses are better hand ridden and some are not and need the whip. As I said above, a big hulking horse like Curlin, Zen or Rock Hard 10 may not respond to hands and body like a smaller horse, ie BL would. Fillies normally don't like being hit, in my exp. some can improve from it, but the fillies typically need the body and voice. If you have a horse that won't listen to any of your aids, and a high strung TB geared in race mode may not respond needs to be reminded that you are up there sometimes. Donna Brothers on the Works this morning "its better to have a stick and not need it, than need a stick and not have it." If you have a horse that is veering out of control and won't straigten, a jock then goes for the whip when reins fail. If there is not stick to get his focus back and to make him stop veering then what? Do you want a few horses to clip heels and have half the field go down?
Miss Keller is a good example. New rider at Woodbine a few weeks back was told only to hand ride her and look at the result.
Icy, while in some instances that is true, it is not completely. As I just said a jockey does not have the use of their legs to ask the horse to move forward or to the sides. Reins, at thos speeds do more harm than good. The stick could be a way to enforce leg, to get a horse to straighten out, and normally is. It could also be used if a horse is in the middle of a hole and beginning to balk. The jock can't use their legs and if their reins or voice does not work they have the stick as an option. You also have a case of where some horses are hulking monsters, Zenyatta, Curlin, Rock Hard 10. What makes you think a giant like is able to feel somebody who is not even 120lbs? I can say from exp, I am a very small person, jockey size, and sometimes I have to get a little more forceful to get even an avg size horse to remember i'm up on their back. I have my legs and because of my size I can still run into trouble. It is a needed tool in this sport.
I should have qualified that. To do that I'll quote John Nerud the trainer who knows a lot more than I do, "a good horse doesn't need to be whipped." I guess the word "good" is the qualifier.
icy, to me, the most obvious examples of horses that could have benefited from some well-timed smacks to their be-hinds that they rarely received are the two older of the Barbaro brothers, Nicky and Lenny. Do I get my spanking now? lol
I would really like to see those who favor whipping be test subjects before they voice their opinions. An competent rider can get a horse to run without the whip!
How else are you supposed to get your horse to run harder? A whip is an essential tool.
It's been apart of the game since the beginning, and the riding crops have gotten safer and friendlier to horses over time. Enough of "political correctness"...it really does go too far.
It's part of the game. I don't mind that they use it, however if they did without it too I'd be OK. How's that for ambiguous.
And how often are jockeys fined or suspended for leaving such welts? You hardly see a horse return from the track with giant welts because they were beaten to the extreme.
riders THINK they are always hitting on the rear flanks but often they wind up striking just in front of the rear hiip area in the soft tissues. I have spoken to judges who tell me tha huge red welts along that area which initiated fines and time off for the protagonsits.
If a horse is being hit on the rump then it is actually not as harmful as people like to portray. I don't believe I have seen an overload of jockey's hitting a horse over the head with a whip. I know CD has adopted the new whips too, which if marketed to the public correctly should put us in a good light.
The whip, per se, is not a problem. It is the way it is miused: hitting a horse over the head, raising the arms above the shoulder and crashing down on the flanks, whipping even when there is no response. Showing the whip to the horse up near their muzzle is a non punishing way of getting their attention as is poppoin gthme once on their LEFT side. Also, late in a contest, a single or double reminder that the race is not over is often used and should be allowed. Woodbine used a new softer whip experimentally last year and it has been adopted. Safer and less harmful to their flanks

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