Finally, the research is in on the use of whips in horse racing. And it’s eye opening...
The University of Sydney study (led by Lydia Tong) essentially set out to find if horses experience pain while being whipped in the closing stages of races. They found that although horse skin is generally thicker than human skin, the part of the skin that is thicker doesn’t act as an insulator against pain. Most worrying was the fact horses and humans have the same nerve receptor structures present to detect pain. So essentially, if a whip hurts our skin, it hurts a horse’s too.
This goes against the commonly voiced opinion from leading racing officials that a whip ‘doesn’t hurt’ and is just ‘encouragement’.
Last month, the same university found that the use of whips actually offers no benefit to jockeys and doesn’t improve race times.
So with this research in mind, is it finally time to say goodbye to the whip?