A few days ago, PETA Australia filed a lawsuit in Tasmanian Magistrates' Court alleging that the whipping of horses on Tasmanian racetracks violates state animal welfare laws.
Whipping a horse, a cruel but permitted practice in Australia
In Australia, the use of riding crops in horse racing is largely self-regulated by the industry. Australian racing rules allow jockeys to whip horses up to five times before the last 100 meters of a race and an unlimited number of times in the home stretch. Yet under Tasmania's Animal Welfare Act, beating an animal and causing it unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering is a crime.
PETA Australia and the Coalition to Protect Racehorses (CPR) met with the animal welfare officer of Tasracing, the Tasmanian racing authority, over a year ago to express concern about the use of riding crops, offer their support to help implement changes, and point out that whipping horses violates state anti-cruelty law.
PETA Australia and other animal welfare groups - including World Animal Protection, CPR and Animal Liberation NSW - also co-signed a letter to Tasracing requesting a meeting to discuss the issues and see if there was a way forward. The group's lawyer then met in person with Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson, but he declined to communicate further and informed them that Tasracing had no intention of considering banning or restricting the group. use of riding crops. Faced with a continued and widespread violation of animal welfare laws, PETA Australia chose to pursue private prosecution.
Increased suffering and risk of fatal injury
In July, the British Horse Racing Association opened a consultation on the use of the riding crop, after an Australian study showed that it is ineffective and causes pain in horses .
Another study of broken legs in horses at British racetracks found that animals that had been whipped in the last 10 seconds of a race were more likely to suffer a fatal fracture .
Towards the end of horse abuse?
In the United States, the state of New Jersey has banned all use of the riding crop to induce thoroughbreds to run faster, and California and Kentucky have restricted the use of the riding crop. In 1982, Norway banned its use except for safety reasons, and in 2009 it banned the use of riding whips altogether for horses three years of age or older.
In France too, the rules for the use of whips are also determined by the industry itself. In 2019, France Galop - the parent company which organizes the flat and obstacle courses - reduced the number of strokes allowed from six to five. Five strokes too many for the horses. Last year, a jockey was sentenced for whipping a horse to death at the Cagnes-sur-Mer racecourse . The animal, pushed to the limit, had collapsed before succumbing. Despite this, the jockey will be able to resume his activity at the end of five years.
To whip a horse tirelessly to the finish line in a race in which it is forced to participate is unjustifiable.