Futility of whipping racehorses revealed in study

Jan 31, 2011
How a horse ran in the first part of a race, when it wasn't being whipped, was the most critical factor in racing success.

Whipping racehorses is pointless and does not make a difference to the outcome of the race, new research from two University of Sydney veterinarians has revealed.

The study, which has been peer-reviewed and published by the Public Library of Science ONE, investigated the impact of whipping on performance in Thoroughbred races.

Study co-author and Honorary Associate Professor at the Faculty of , Dr. David Evans, said the results offer no support for the retention of whipping in horse racing.

"We looked at running times in a series of races, how whips were used and whether that whip use influenced the outcome of a race," he said.

"What we found was that whipping did not affect the probability of whether or not a horse finished a race in the first three placings.

"How a horse ran in the first part of a race, when it wasn't being whipped, was the most critical factor in racing success. So horses are being whipped in the final stages of a race, in the face of , for no benefit."

expert and co-author Professor Paul McGreevy said he hoped this research would highlight the fallacy and futility of whipping.

"The reason for whip use has traditionally been the need to be seen to ride the horse out and the suggestion that you can steer a horse with the whip," he said.

"Many horse riders, and certainly these findings, refute that. Top performance horses have been bred and prepared to give their best.

"Add to that excellent horsemanship and you've got a winning combination. That's all you need.

"We have evidence here that great horsemanship does not involve flogging tired horses."

The research was funded by RSPCA Australia and carried out with the assistance of Racing New South Wales.

RSPCA Chief Scientist, Dr. Bidda Jones, said the results will help end the debate over whether there is a place for whipping in the future of Australian Thoroughbred racing.

"This study has found that jockeys use whips just as people would expect - to try to make their slowing horse recover speed in the closing stages of a race in the hope they will get a place. That's not surprising. What is surprising is the finding that whipping doesn't make any difference.

"Jockeys may as well save their energy, keep their hands on the reins, and head straight for home. Their horses will be so much better off for it."

Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, Professor Rosanne Taylor, said this report will challenge traditional thinking.

"Science has the ability to challenge our views of what is otherwise considered the norm," she said.

"This result is a good example of how evidence can inform the way we work with animals to promote their optimal performance and welfare.

"In this instance, the future wellbeing of Australian racehorses is looking brighter, because we now better understand that give their best when they are not whipped, before the 400m mark, positioning themselves for a win or place."

Explore further: Study pumps up the volume on understanding of marine invertebrate hearing

Provided by University of Sydney

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stem cell research to benefit horse owners and trainers

Oct 21, 2008

In a potential breakthrough for the performance horse industry (such as racing and polo), Melbourne scientists are aiming to harness stem cells to repair tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone damage in horses.

Horse racing was best before British, says historian

Dec 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- American horse racing was kinder to the animals, more sporting and more socially egalitarian in the days before the 'ruthless' English version was introduced, according to a historian.

Humans aren't the only ones with obesity problems

Apr 24, 2007

Horses are inheritably couch potatoes. An overeating, slothful horse leads to an obese horse. Unlike humans, however, horse owners often don’t see the dangers of an obese horse. Caretakers may see no harm ...

Horse genome sequence draft is issued

Feb 07, 2007

The U.S.-led Horse Genome Sequencing Project has issued its first draft, making it available to biomedical and veterinary scientists around the world.

Recommended for you

Ninety-eight new beetle species discovered in Indonesia

13 hours ago

Ninety-eight new species of the beetle genus Trigonopterus have been described from Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands. Museum scientists from Germany and their local counterparts used an innovative approa ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.