Use of whips on horses at competitive events


Ratification Date: 08 Dec 2022


Whip use must not be used to influence the result of a competitive event.


There has been ongoing debate around the use of whips on horses at competitive events. There are those who seek to ban their use completely; proponents of retaining the whip suggest that human equestrian safety can be preserved with the carriage of a whip and its occasional use in the context of Workplace Health and Safety and equine welfare.

However, there is evidence that human safety is preserved when horses are raced without whip use1 and that horses are more likely to sustain a fracture when a whip is used during racing2,3 with horses who are reluctant to start the race being at higher risk.3


  1. Currently, racing codes mandate their definition of correct whip use and associated penalties for misuse, based on the activities of the horse and likely proximity to other horses and people. Racing codes must work towards a framework where whip use for encouragement is not condoned (International Society for Equitation Science. 2018).
  2. All other equestrian authorities must define excessive or incorrect whip use and the specifications of an approved whip for their discipline, and any misuse, according to these rules, must be vigorously policed with severe penalties.
  3. Equitation science is encouraged to continue to undertake research around this issue, including investigating the need for whip use in specific situations, as well as how the whips should be used in those contexts. Better definitions could then be made that would benefit the rider and horse.
  4. Other factors in each equestrian code that could be modified to improve rider and horse welfare and safety should also continue to be investigated. A broader understanding of the numerous factors that can affect horse behaviour can lead to further improvements that may reduce the perceived need for whip carriage.
  5. Racing and equestrian industries should undertake education of their participants into effective training methods that minimise the use of training aids that intentionally cause discomfort, pain or fear to promote behavioural change.


  1. Thompson K, McMannus P, Stansall D, et al. Is Whip Use Important to Thoroughbred Racing Integrity? What Stewards’ Reports Reveal about Fairness to Punters, Jockeys and Horses. Animals 2020;10(11):1985  https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10111985
  2. Pinchbeck, G.L., Clegg, P.D., Proudman, C.J., Morgan, K.L., French, N.R. Whip use and race progress are associated with horse falls in hurdle and steeplechase racing in the UK. Equine Vet J. 2004 Jul;36(5):384-9. doi: 10.2746/0425164044868387. PMID: 15253077.
  3. Parkin, T.D., Clegg, P.D., French, N.P., Proudman, C.J., Riggs, C.M., Singer, E.R., Webbon, P.M., Morgan, K.L. 2006. Analysis of horse race videos to identify intra-race risk factors for fatal distal limb fracture. Prev Vet Med. 74(1):44-55. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2006.01.006. Epub 2006 Mar 2. PMID: 16513194.

Other literature accessed to inform this policy

  1. Jones B, McGreevy P.D.. Ethical equitation: applying a cost-benefit approach. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. 2010; 5:196-202.
  2. McGreevy PD, Corken RA, Salvin H, Black C. Whip use by jockeys in a sample of Australian Thoroughbred races – an observational study. PLoS One. 2012;7 (3): e33398.
  3. McGreevy P, Hawson LA, Salvin H, McLean AN, 2013. A note on the force of whip impacts delivered by jockeys using forehand and backhand strikes. Journal of veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. 2013; 8(5):395-399.
  4. McGreevy PD, Oddie Holding the whip hand—a note on the distribution of jockeys’ whip hand preferences in Australian Thoroughbred racing. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research  2011; 6 (5): 287–289.
  5. International Society for Equitation Science. Position statement on aversive stimuli in horse training. https://equitationscience.com/equitation/position-statement-on-aversive-stimuli-in-horse-training 2018
  6. Knight PK, Hamilton N. Handedness of whip use by Australian Jockeys. Australian Veterinary Journal 2014; 92:231-234.
  7. Evans D, McGreevy P. An investigation of racing performance and whip use by jockeys in thoroughbred races. PLoS One 2011;6: e15622
  8. Deuel NR, Lawrence LM. Effects of urging by the rider on gallop stride characteristics of Quarterhorses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science1988;8(3):240 - 243.
  9. Noble G, Dodd J, Nielsen S, et al. Determining forces generated using a padded whip and impacts on the horse. RIRDC Publication No 14/075, September 2014.
  10. Australian Jockeys Association Statement on the Whip. https://www.australianjockeys.org/news/aja-statement-whip 2019
  11. Williams J, Greening L, Marlin D, Randle H. Understanding whip use in riders in sports horse disciplines. In Proceedings of the 15th International Equitation Science Conference, Guelph, Canada. 19th- 24th August  Pp43.
  12. Thompson K, McMannus P, Stansall D, et al.  Is Whip Use Important to Thoroughbred Racing Integrity? What Stewards’ Reports Reveal about Fairness to Punters, Jockeys and Horses. Animals 2020;10(11):1985  https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10111985
  13. Tong L, Stewart M, Johnson I et al. A Comparative Neuro-Histological Assessment of Gluteal Skin Thickness and Cutaneous Nociceptor Distribution in Horses and Humans. Animals.2020: 10(11): 2094; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112094

Other relevant policies and position statements