Whilst we live some distance from a large race ground, as an agricultural community the people of Ynys Mon are particularly aware of the welfare of all animals, and as an animal lover, I share their concerns.
I believe that the irresponsible use of the whip is completely unacceptable. The British Horseracing Association (BHA), the governing and regulatory body for the sport, requires that whips used in horse racing must be used responsibly, for safety reasons and only to encourage the horse. Their guidelines were written with advice from animal welfare groups, such as the RSPCA.
The Horse Welfare Board’s five-year Horse Welfare Strategy, published in February 2020, contains 20 recommendations for improving horse welfare. It recommends that, as a minimum, the penalties for misuse of the whip need to increase and that the BHA should conduct a consultation on the use of the whip this year. As well as seeking views on appropriate sanctions for misuse of the whip, it also recommends that the BHA uses the consultation to consider whether the use of the whip for encouragement should be banned or retained and whether the rules that restrict the use of the whip for encouragement need to be changed. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this consultation once it is complete.
In addition to sanctions from the sport, using the whip indiscriminately on horses could lead to a prosecution under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, which makes it a criminal offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. I would encourage anyone with evidence that a racehorse has suffered unnecessarily from being whipped to report it to the local authority.