The whip, of course, is an instrument of abuse; it motivates a racehorse to run faster through pain and fear. Anyone with a working set of eyes can see that. Even the pro-racing equine medical director of California, Dr. Rick Arthur, knows it: “There are those who argue that whipping doesn’t hurt horses, but that’s nonsense, and we all know that. Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.” (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)
For its part, the industry tries its damndest to convince us that the “riding crop” – they refuse to use the word whip – is but a harmless guide, an indispensable tool that helps protect both horse and rider. But in 2021, rapidly evolving public sentiment – it’s more than just “optics” – is forcing their hand. The result is ever-more-restrictive strike rules and new designs – the “kinder, gentler crop,” like this one:
I don’t know, still looks like it packs a wallop to me. Anyhow, I quite enjoyed jockey McCarthy’s assessment: “The horses will respond to it but, you know, not get overabused as well.” That’s right, Mr. McCarthy, not get overabused, because your propaganda (“steering,” “encouragement” – love that word) aside, you know full well that, as I said at the top, whipping a horse, whipping any domesticated animal, is, at the very least, garden-variety, root-word abuse. Period.