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Anyone who's ever watched a horse being flogged down the homestretch can see the obvious: It's animal abuse. Jockeys routinely strike Thoroughbreds 15 to 20 times before they cross the finish line. American Pharoah was whipped 32 times in the Kentucky Derby. Drivers of horses used in harness racing often lift their arms high to add even more force.
Whipping a horse causes pain and distress, and researchers have even proved that it doesn't make horses run faster.
We need to make sure that commission members hear loud and clear that beating horses punitively or in an attempt to make them run faster should never be allowed, under any circumstances. A whipping ban would also help prevent horses who are fading or injured from being pushed beyond their limit. Those arguing against a ban are arguing to be allowed to abuse horses, and the public must not stand for it. PETA certainly won't.
The New Jersey Racing Commission recently passed new rules prohibiting jockeys and exercise riders from whipping a Thoroughbred or Standardbred, except for safety reasons, such as attempting to avoid a fallen horse or rider. In a world that increasingly refuses to tolerate abuse, it's high time that the NYSGC and all racing states stopped whipping abuse. At least sixteen horses have died on racetracks in New York so far this year. How many would have slowed down when they felt pain if they hadn't been beaten to run even faster?
While racing can never be entirely safe, simple changes, such as a whipping ban, could make a world of difference for horses like Special Trip—who was whipped so many times that an open welt developed on her right flank, even though there was no expectation that the Thoroughbred filly could have won the race—and Donna's Beach, a horse who was whipped by a driver well after the harness race had ended. Horses are intelligent individuals who deserve better. They've shown that they can understand symbols and can use them to make requests.
Please send a polite message to the NYSGC urging it to protect horses by enacting a ban on whipping.