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Monday, October 17, 2011

Siding with the Jockeys

Once again, we take a look at our thoroughbred brethren on the other side of the pond who have been threatening a strike over the British Horseracing Authorities's (BHA) new rules regarding whipping in flat, steeplechase and hunt meets.  The BHA's rules are unrealistic and need to be seriously revamped.

Just in case you are wondering who I am and what did I do with the real Pacingguy, let me explain.  I do think we whip our horses far too much; I like the idea of jockeys losing their riding fees and purse winnings for excessive whipping; something we should look at in North America.  However, the idea of counting how many times you may hit a horse in a race and the last furlong is absurd; especially in races over two miles.  You are supposed to keep count how many times you use the stick during a race while you are going over fences?

It is not the number of times you hit the horse that matters.  It is hitting a horse when he is already beaten; hitting the horse when the horse has already given all it has; hitting a horse in anger which matters.  It is not the number of times you hit the horse that matters; it is when you hit the horse too hard; where you hit it; how you wind up before letting the horse feel the whip which matters.  It's when you leave welts which matters.  I personally feel in harness racing, the whip should be carried and only used in emergencies, but no matter how you feel about whipping, asking a jockey to count the number of times they hit a horse during a race is absurd; as if the jockey (or driver) has nothing else in their mind.

The BHA rule is a great rule with regards to penalties.  It is a horrible rule as it comes to defining the crime.  Hopefully after meeting the jocks, they can get it right the second time.


Natalie Keller Reinert said...

Well said!

As for the BHA rule, well, it is my guess that jockeys could learn to add up their whip hits; it's just another skill, in the end, like calculating time and distance, and with time it would be as natural as anything else they do.

You ARE conscious, very conscious, after all, when you're galloping, and the jockeys seem to give some sort of impression that they're in a red haze of thirst to win, and they can't help themselves if they just keep hitting and hitting, and that is a bit suspect to me. You really can't tell that you've hit the horse five times? Really? Then maybe you go overboard with the whip.

Five times is a lot, honestly, as a horsewoman AND as an exercise rider, I believe five whips is a lot. Five whips in any other sport is a sound beating. Five whips in the jumping arena will get you rang out of competition.

I think the BHA can handle the situation differently, giving the riders time to develop the skill to count and time their strokes, but in the end, I like the rule.

The_Knight_Sky said...

Good post Pacing Guy. It comes back to the BHA not wanting to determine what was right and what wasn't during the race.

Now I can understand jockeys being unable to keep a count or the stewards unable to determine when and where the horse was struck - through watching via binoculars/camera/video replays.

But the key point you nailed was here...
..when you hit the horse too hard; where you hit it; how you wind up before letting the horse feel the whip which matters..

This of course is a grey area and that's difficult for both stewards and the public to gauge accurately.

As an inveterate replay watcher (t-breds) I'm certain nearly 4 times out of 5 the an errant horse in the stretch is the result of a whip striking and/or the jockey having but one hand on the reins. TWO HANDS please - ride them out.

Until thoroughbred racing actually runs these races in that manner we'll never know how beneficial "no-whip" races are.

As for Harness racing, I'm pretty certain the drivers have far better steering than 114 lb. jockeys do. But I do think stinging a trotter had a direct relationship between incessant whipping and gait. Thanks to both of you for calling this to our attention. I'm sure this will be discussed many times in the near future.