July 28, 2008
In response to calls from the horse racing community, an industry initiative to explore the use of the whip in Ontario horse racing was announced today by John Blakney, Executive Director of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC).
Representatives of the industry will be brought together to a special working session in early September to assess current practice, policy and rules to determine what improvements need to be made.
Representatives of the horse racing community will include current and retired jockeys and drivers, horse people associations, racetracks, animal welfare agencies and the equine veterinarian community.
Statistical information on the use of the whip in Ontario, as well as actual race video, will be reviewed to better understand what is considered to be appropriate and inappropriate use in 2008. The experience and practices of other racing jurisdictions around the world will also be presented.
Historically, whips have played an intricate role in horse training and horse racing. Its use has evolved as a training and control tool to protect the safety of both horses and participants, and a tool for encouraging performance during a race. The horse racing community's varying degrees of opinion on the subject of whip use and specific recent requests for change to the rules by some Standardbred racetracks have led to this industry collaboration.
Within the framework of social responsibility and concern for the welfare of the horse, the ORC believes that this close examination of the degree of acceptability of the practice may lead to changes, including new rules and levels of enforcement.