Tuesday, March 28, 2006

To whip or not to whip....that is the question

Over the past few months I have read a number of articles about jockeys using the whip too much. I did not really pay much attention, thinking that it was animal rights folks giving it to the horse industry. This past weekend I was at a small track in Pennsylvania watching the bottom of the barrel. It was a $3500 claiming race at 6 furlongs. Coming around the clubhouse turn, the horse in front had a two length lead on the second horse, and it looked like he was pulling away. The jockey started whipping the horse at about the 1/2 pole. By the time the jockey hit the 5/8 pole he had opened up a 4 length lead. He was still whipping. I expected the trainer to grab the jockey by the neck after the race, but he gave him a high five and marched over to the winners circle. Later that night I saw a horse beaten so bad that it was bleeding from a bad whip to the belly. I started thinking about all the articles I had read recently. Maybe they are right? Maybe someone can help me out on this. Please give me your opinions.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Every horse handles the whip differently. The Jock needs to know the horse, and what he will and will not repond to. You could beat the hair off a horse, and he may not respond. Every horse is different!

John said...

I rarely see what I would call abuse. But sometimes I wonder when I see a jockey hit a horse when it seems obvious he will finish out of the money. The English Jockey Club has some information at:
http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/rules/whipuse.html

kentucky joe said...

Just my opinion but from watching a lot of races, it seems to me that the well-trained horses respond to a tap of the whip and a cluck much better than the jockey who is flailing and bringing it from high above his head. The smarter the thoroughbred, and make no mistake, there are some smart ones, the more recalcitrant and obsitnate they become the harder you whip them.

Belmo said...

There is no reason -- none whatsoever -- to keep the whip in the game. It's still in the game because of tradition, and because racing doesn't make any changes quickly. But the whip is an anachronism that needs to go the way of the 2 1/4 mile maiden race.

Baloo said...

Belmo - Thanks for the feedback...However, I would love to see a 2.5 mile maiden!

Anonymous said...

I was an exerciser rider for years and have work at many tracks and farms breaking babies..I got out because of the abuse. the spectators in the grandstand dont see the abuse behind the scenes.."pin firing" their legs because they have sore shins. it involves burning holes into the flesh, at which point the legs swell. they also apply mercury directly to shaved legs to blister the skin..the belief is that it will increase circulation. The leg swells to 2 or 3 times its normal size, the skin underneath literally dies and peels off in pieces with the hair attached. This is just a scratch on the surface of things that are done in the name of racing. If most saw what goes on behind the scenes...next time you're at the track ask to see the state vet and ask them about these procedures...

 

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