“We just passed the most restrictive whip rule in North America and maybe in the world,”  Greg Ferraro, veterinarian and chairman of the CHRB.

John Cherwa at the Los Angeles Times reports on the new urging rules that were voted on by the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday, Dec. 12. The 80+ minute meeting of the CHRB was available to listen to on a livestream on its website (as all of its open meetings are) and the main topic was the whip rules amendment. Story link is below.

Woodbine was the first track on the continent to introduce underhanded whipping, an experiment that began in October and has been met with some backlash. Jockeys that have only known one way to urge a horse with the whip had difficulty with the new rule and found the underhanded position awkward. There had also been some difficulty around the length of the whips which would strike the horses more sensitive flank rather than the rump which has a thicker hide. However, the AGCO reported that there has been no evidence of whips causing welts since the experiment began.

The initiative has thought to great enhance the optics to the general public as racing’s reputation has been battling public perception.

The Jockey’s Guild in the U.S. issued a statement on the possible move by jurisdictions to eliminate the use of the whip but for safety purposes only:

The proposals by the California Horse Racing Board, the New Jersey Racing Commission, and The Jockey Club, to eliminate the use of the riding crop but for safety purposes, will have serious consequences and could result in even greater risks and dangers. It is the opinion of the jockeys, those whose lives are at risk, that there could be catastrophic consequences for both the horses and the jockeys if the riding crop is eliminated but for safety purposes.

Many race fans will have seen the whip lead to drifting, shying and veering which can lead to accidents.

This is Here Comes Frazier, a 2-year-old who never raced again after he shied from whip in a race at Keeneland – Keeneland photo

Click her for the story in the L.A. Times.