There have been calls for a ban on the use of the whip in racing, except for safety purposes. It is vital that the racing industry follows high animal welfare standards for all horses and that whips are used with minimal force and on minimal occasions.
The sport’s governing body, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), will give further consideration to the use of the whip as part of their development of an industry wide welfare strategy. I await the outcome of this review.
The Government says the irresponsible use of the whip is completely unacceptable. It states that the BHA requires whips to be used responsibly and jockeys may only use the whip within specific strict rules. It notes that the BHA’s policy was drawn up in consultation with animal welfare groups, such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare.
Racehorses are protected under the Animal Welfare Act, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal or for an owner or keeper to fail to provide for its welfare needs. The Government has pledged to increase maximum sentences for the most severe animal cruelty offences under this Act and I call on the Government to put in place this legislation.
My Labour colleagues and I believe we should seek to improve practice and animal welfare conditions of animals in sport. Our frontbench has proposed appointing an Animal Welfare Commissioner, who would be responsible for gathering the latest scientific evidence on animal sentience and animal welfare, to ensure the most up to date and evidence-based understanding across government.