Paul McGreevy is a veterinarian and ethologist, and Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of New England in Australia. A few years back, Dr. McGreevy wrote the following in The Conversation:
“Given there is no evidence to show that whipping horses doesn’t hurt, I decided to find out whether having my leg struck with a racing whip, as hard as jockeys whip horses, would cause me pain and distress.
“Well, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’, and the thermographic images I took clearly show heat at the site of impact. In the image below you can see white areas of inflammation in my upper leg 30 minutes after it was struck – only once.”
McGreevy concludes: “[W]e must assume that, just as I felt pain and distress from the impact of the padded whip, similar whipping in a horse would also cause pain and distress.” Case closed, again.
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.
The stewards at Ruidoso have fined jockey Juan Rivas (amount not important; he still gets to keep his job) for “excessive use of the whip” on Rigged Right Saturday. It was excessive, the stewards say, because the 3-year-old was “a well-beaten horse.” Double entendre, defined. So how “well-beaten”? Dead last, 17 lengths back.
This is horseracing.