Whipping Debate: Readers Weigh In

Long time blog reader Peter has a neat question and answer post on whipping. He is a horseman, bettor and fan, and has been for many years.

(1) Who should decide what is appropriate whipping?

The answer is, Aunt Maude should decide. Everyone knows an Aunt Maude. She is not a stakeholder. She is not an animal activist. She is not a vegan or a tree hugger. She is a normal person, might have a cat, and could live in a backwater or a big city. She is practical and ordinary and like most ordinary people, she recoils from slashing and pounding on a beautiful animal. Auntie doesn't have to think about it. Her approval or disapproval is immediate and there is no second chance.

(2) Who should not decide what is appropriate whipping?

Pretty much everyone who has been successful in the horse business has a vested interest in business as usual. It's the same in every sport or business. No one puts away the corked bat until they have to. No one stops making gas guzzlers until it's already too late.

(3) What about the "whipping is essential for safety" claptrap?

Absolute bunk. For a hundred years the driver took a hold of a runaway or a breaking horse and now all of a sudden a whip is a cure all. You have to be simple to buy that nonsense.

(4) What about "the bettors like to see the horse whipped"?

The reality is that the bettors rightfully demand that a horse be driven with purpose and encouragement. I know of no way to appease a bettor who has lost his wager. This one is for someone cleverer than I.

(5) Who cares about Aunt Maude anyway? She is a nickel and dime punter.

Okay, this is the most important point. Politicians care about Aunt Maude. They care about live attendance. If their constituents go to the races, races are good. And the industry lives off political will. Auntie votes. If Auntie turns up her nose, the local member might also.


Anonymous said...

You have previously said the driver has little or no outcome on a race. So would it even matter if they are whipping alot, a little or not at all.

Seems like it should not even be a debate based on your theory.

Pull the Pocket said...

I agree with you. In fact, I would submit that the amount a driver whips and whips hard is inversely proportional to success. The best in the sport don't tend to hack and slash, the worst drivers in our sport do.

Scott said...

there's a similar debate going on in Australia (gallops). The world has changed with different views on the environment, health and safety and animal welfare. Racing isn't exempt from that and simply must conform if we want it to have any hopes of remaining mainstream. Changing the whip rules will get rid of the cowboy jockeys and drivers, the good ones will always be able to adjust.

Anonymous said...

Jockeys and drivers aren't the only one with whips. At Great Lakes Downs a few years back a frustrated member of the gate crew starts delivering overhand whips to a horse's rear hard enough to cause several bettors to start screaming obscenities at him via the TV. Indiana Downs is another track where I've noticed use of a whip while loading. These smaller tracks may not have the best of gate crews but they have to understand what they do can easily end up on internet and brand the whole industry.


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