RSPCA welcomes whip ban in harness racing

The RSPCA has today welcomed the landmark decision by Harness Racing Australia to ban the use of the whip in racing from 1 September 2017.

RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil said the removal of whips from harness racing will go a long way towards protecting harness racing horses from unnecessary and unjustified pain and distress.

“As Harness Racing Australia has recognised, racing should celebrate quality horsemanship, breeding and training - whips shouldn’t come into it,” she said.

“This is a powerful sign that the harness racing industry is focused on horse welfare and is acknowledging the concerns of the wider community,” she said.

“We commend the industry leadership in removing the use of whips, not only on the track, but also in training.

“Harness Racing Australia’s training and education programs to support this decision will help current drivers adapt to the new arrangements, and ensure that future generations of drivers will also learn to race in a new way.

The announcement makes Harness Racing Australia the first racing industry body in the world to voluntarily end the use of whips.

“The RSPCA congratulates Harness Racing Australia on their international leadership and demonstrated commitment to horse welfare through ending the use of whips in racing”.

“In this global first, the industry has today openly acknowledged that ending whip use is vital to demonstrating their responsibility as an industry, and to earning and maintaining the social acceptance and sustainability of harness racing,

“We strongly urge the Thoroughbred racing industry and its governing body Racing Australia to follow the lead of harness racing and announce the end of whip use as the outcome of their current whip rule review,” said Ms Neil.

The RSPCA is Australia’s leading animal welfare organisation and one of Australia’s most trusted charities. The RSPCA works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection.