The Lie That Whipping Doesn’t Hurt the Horse

To anyone with even a modicum of common sense, whipping a horse is a clear, unequivocal form of animal abuse. While mostly the industry tries its damnedest to convince us that the “riding crop” – their euphemism of choice – is but a harmless guide that protects both horse and rider, occasionally refreshing candor surfaces. Like this from California’s pro-racing equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur (since retired) at the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities in 2019:

There it is: the definitive refutation of a century of lies. And while it should not be necessary, here is further confirmation from world-renowned ethologist (and HW advisory-board member) Dr. Nicholas Dodman:

“Whips are instruments designed to administer pain. During a race, jockeys whip, and sometimes relentlessly thrash, horses to spur them beyond their natural limits. Horses are flight animals that have evolved to flee to escape pressing danger or pain, sometimes the bite of a horsefly or, during racing, the sting of a whip. To whip a horse on beyond his inherent limits is to risk exhaustion, collapse, and physical injury.

“I believe that many of the injuries horses sustain during racing are created by forcing them to exceed their limits through the use of whips. No half measures are acceptable. Whips should be banned. Pain is never an acceptable tool for any kind of animal control and is, to my mind, cruel and abusive.”

Thank you, Dr. Dodman.


  1. We have never used whips or spurs or noxious stimuli for teaching a horse to be ridden.We 1st started teaching horses to be ridden in 1982. Note we write taught to be ridden! Dislike the idea of “Breaking” a horse to ridden. We have had the fastest time of the day at our now demolished ! mile track without any whips or spurs or shocking devices. We quit the track in 2005 after seeing so much abuse of both good horses & people being taken advantage of.

  2. Everything about racing horses is morally depraved. It is no surprise that the people (being morally depraved) involved in this abuse and killing of horses would lie about anything they do in order to avoid the scrutiny of being guilty of felony animal cruelty.
    The fact that gamblers have complained to the stewards that this jockey or that jockey didn’t whip the horse enough, the horse that he/she bet on, should be one of many clues to anyone that these morally depraved people know that whipping the horses with the riding crops hurts like hell!!!!!

  3. They hurt. It’s so obvious when horses get hit, sometimes they will wring their tails, or blatantly stop, swerve, or pin their ears angrily. Pro racing folks can say that they don’t all they want, but the horses let us know otherwise

  4. Wow, who could have imagined that hitting a horse with an object would hurt?
    Of course, no one addresses the kicking horses in the belly and punching them in the face, and the multitude of other blatant abuse that goes in.

    • It’s a rhetorical question, but I have to ask: who in the hell PUNCHES a horse in the face? Talk about being counterproductive to whatever it is you want to achieve! Do people think that, because a horse is a large animal, it somehow doesn’t feel pain? I’m surprised that more of them, given a chance, don’t trample their tormentors to serious injury or worse.

      • It comes down to two things: first, horses are large animals and ignorant people think they have to use excessive force to get cooperation, and second, people know that horses, for all their strength and size, usually will not fight back, so it makes these people feel powerful to get an animal like a horse to cower and back away.
        I see A LOT of women use excessive force, like vicious jerking on the bit and excessive use of the whip, and I believe it’s because they think they have to try to make up for their inferior strength.
        If you have to show your horse who’s boss, he already knows it’s not you.

        • Your last sentence says it all. I’ve never trained a horse, and even though I am a small woman, it would never occur to me to try to dominate them by sheer physical force (same way you don’t do that with humans). I remember Monty Roberts writing about how, as a young teen, he camped out for three weeks near a herd of wild horses, so that he could observe them and learn how they behaved with each other. He didn’t like the way his father “broke” horses and felt there had to be a better way that was more in tune with their natural inclinations. Any old anyone can wale away on a horse to get ‘compliance’, but it takes someone who has observed them and learned how to work with them who will have the best bond with them, and a willing partner. It’s not rocket science.

  5. Of course whipping causes pain that is why horses are whipped. It is intended to hurt, always has been.
    Many horses respond to being shown the whip. They know what it is and what it feels like!!
    Saying whipping doesn’t hurt horses is laughable.

  6. Anytime I’ve watched a replay of a racehorse who sustains a catastrophic injury they are being beaten by the whip before they go down.
    Many racehorses “lug in” or “lug out” to escape the pain of the whip and it’s so obvious.
    This business can fine a jockey for not whipping a racehorse enough; for not getting the “most out of their mount,” and it’s right in the rules and regulations.
    Enough already.

    • All of these comments are appropriate and proper. There is way too much money on the line to have the truth mean anything to the money happy New York State Elected politicians yet they want to ban the horse drawn carriages in NYC….logic completely escapes our state government.

      • Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal has introduced Assembly Bill 8468 to cancel the $230-Million in subsidies to horse racing in New York and direct it to education and human services instead. Senator Robert Jackson introduced Senate Bill S8485 to enact new laws and repeal some old/current laws that would accomplish a lot to stop the funding of horseracing in NY. There are some co-sponsors of this bill. 👍
        Did you see the deplorable conditions in which carriage horses are kept? Did you see the condition of the horses themselves that were shown in the video? 😭(NEW YORK POST article, August 27, 2022; NYC stable that housed fallen carriage horse keeps malnourished animals in horrific conditions: video…) Those horses should be seized immediately, but it’s not that simple. Talk about Animal Cruelty!!!!!

  7. I am against whipping horses. This is animal cruelty! Those who abuse horses should be prosecuted for animal abuse. the racing of horses must end!

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