THE RSPCA has welcomed the landmark decision by Harness Racing Australia to ban the use of the whip in racing from September next year.
The announcement makes Harness Racing Australia the first racing industry body in the world to voluntarily end the use of whips.
RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil said the removal of whips from harness racing would go a long way towards protecting harness racing horses from unnecessary and unjustified pain and distress.
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“As Harness Racing Australia has recognised, racing should celebrate quality horsemanship, breeding and training – whips shouldn’t come into it,” Ms Neil 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.
“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 whip will be banned from harness racing from 1 September 2017.
“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,” Ms Neil said.