For those who need further convincing or are still in denial regarding the need to change our attitudes towards the urging of horses as discussed in our last post, permit me to offer a perspective from down under.
Harness Racing Australia (HRA) is implementing new whipping rules in pari-mutuel races starting January 1st after a two month trial period in their qualifiers. As part of their campaign to implement these rules, they are reaching out to their fans and horsemen alike to explain the whys and how the new rules will work via their website where they have a page dedicated to the revised rules.
Of interest to North American harness racing participants and fans is the video below. In this video, they discuss why the decision has been made to implement the new rules, specifically citing the situation in the United States and elsewhere. The video further goes into an explanation of the rules and penalties as well as a demonstration of the old and new way to whip. It is interesting to note that HRA is specifically banning loose lining (which may address some safety concerns); something not yet being done where urging rules have been changed in North America.
Our Australian counterparts realize society's attitudes demand a change to the sport's urging rules and are acting accordingly. When selling a brand/product, it is just as important to market to your non-customers as well as your customers; you want them to at least not have a negative view of your product. Australia gets it.
Isn't it ironic that those down under can read the American tea leaves better than our own industry leaders? We can adapt or become a pariah of society. That is our choice.