Today the Ontario Racing Commission wants to look long and hard at whipping. This will be studied with interviews and opinions over the next while.
A couple of early opines on this. Andrew Cohen at harnessracing.com says "It's easy, ban it."
Greg, a regular contributer to the blog says the following at chat site Harnessdriver.com: "Personally, I am all for the whipping rules being tightened, but drivers need to be allowed to carry them and use them in a proper manner...if a horse sticks them in, a driver needs to be able to use the whip to get them out of the way or get them corrected to avoid accidents. What needs to be done away with/tightened are the "playing the violin" between the horses legs, the hock shots and those types of uses of the whip, and drivers who do that need to be fined/suspended accordingly, and not the drops in the bucket that they have now. Also, if they are going to look at whipping, they have to address the boots coming out of the stirrups, because that will be the new way to urge the horse."
I agree pretty much with Greg. It is high time such activities like whipping between the legs, hock shots and the boots stop - but we do not even have to change the rule for this. It is on the books, but not enforced everywhere.
I will certainly commend the judges as of late, however, here in Ontario. There is a direction, and that is apparent, that boots and leg whipping is being watched for. They are nabbing the usual suspects here in Ontario. At the Meadowlands it still goes on in virtually every race. They have to step up too and decide if they want to enforce rules, or they don't.
Regardless I commend the commission for looking at this. This is not the wild west, it is not 1910 society. Times have changed. Fans look at horses like pets. Right or wrong, it does not matter. That is the way they think. If you or I saw a fella sticking a whip in a puppy's genitals in a dog park we'd probably call the cops. We have to be cognizant of this in racing, so I hope they do the right thing.
That's my opinion, what is yours?