Norway adopted whip-free racing in 1982, not because whipping was considered a bad look for the racing industry back then, but because national legislation included whipping as a form of cruelty
Three-quarters of Australians quizzed in a poll said they do not support the whipping of horses in racing, a study published today in PLOS ONE shows.
Most of those identified as racing enthusiasts said they would continue to attend or gamble on racing if the whip was banned. Only one in eight of those racing fans said they would no longer watch or bet if the rules did not allow a horse to be whipped for purposes other than jockey safety.
The study used anonymised data from a recent independent survey commissioned, but not administered, by RSPCA Australia. It explored the level of support for the whipping of racehorses, and the proportion of racing enthusiasts who would stop gambling if horses were not whipped.
Of the 1,533 respondents from across the country, only 25 percent (113 women and 271 men) supported the whipping of racehorses.
The more frequently respondents attended races or gambled on them, the more likely they were to agree that horses should be hit with a whip during the normal course of a race. This probably reflects a belief that whipped horses are more likely to win races, although this is contrary to scientific studies.
So the poll looked at the 843 people who were identified in the sample as racing enthusiasts – those who attended or bet on horseracing at least “once or twice a year”.
Only 13 percent (44 women and 63 men) of those identified as racing enthusiasts in the sample said they would stop watching races and betting on them if whipping were banned.
What is interesting when digging into the data is that these respondents were particularly common among those earning less than $20,000 a year. The rate of respondents in this lowest income bracket who said they would walk away if the whip was banned was significantly higher than among those earning more than $150,000 a year.
An analysis about the new research, written by lead author Professor Paul McGreevy and Dr Anne Fawcett, is published today in The Conversation.
Photo at top of page: Professor Paul McGreevy with some of his home-bred horses in the Lower Hunter Valley.