While the majority of the standardbred industry in North America needs to be dragged along kicking and screaming, in other parts of the trotting world stake holders have their eyes wide open.
One such place is Phoenix Park in Port Pirie, South Australia where it is a foregone conclusion whips will soon be a thing of the past. At Harness Racing SA's latest meeting, CEO John Lewis indicated whips were gradually being phased out; within a couple of years.
Why you may ask?
"We don’t live in a bubble … we have an obligation to respect people’s opinion".
Notice it doesn't say we have to respect horseplayer's opinions, it says people's opinions. This means punters, fans, and those who have no interest in wagering on the horses. One can't ignore globally there is a growing concern regarding animal welfare. You can debate how far this concern goes, but concerned they are. People don't want to see horses whipped, they don't want to see the whip used as a goading device, used in between their legs, nor do they want to see a horse nudged by a foot If horses are going to be raced, they want them to race on their own.
If whipping doesn't get American racing to evolve, it is certain what happens to our horses after they race will be a growing concern which will force the industry to finally address the situation in a meaningful manner. We are fortunate the problem with unwanted horses hasn't exploded upon the scene yet, partially thanks to the fact there is no real way to track what happens to horses. New York went back to see what happened to the fate of horses which raced in recent years and their committee on animal welfare was only able to track 27% of the horses. Without the use of microchips, there is really no way to keep track of each horse which benefits those who are so callus about animal welfare post racing.
Don't get me wrong. There are those who love their horses and will do their best to to make sure their horses land well after concluding their racing career. Unfortunately, those who don't are protected by the same 'I see nothing' attitude people have towards cheaters in racing because they don't want to be known as troublemakers.
The time will come where it will change. It will just require some kicking and screaming to happen.