Written Paper

note on the force of whip impacts delivered by jockeys using forehand and backhand strikes  [2013]

McGreevy, Paul D. Hawson, Lesley A. Salvin, Hannah McLean, Andrew N.

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The Australian Racing Board makes a distinction under its Rules of Racing concerning whip use between forehand and backhand whip action that is critically important: before the final 100 m of a race, the whip shall be used in a forehand manner neither in consecutive strides nor on more than 5 occasions. This seems to imply that backhand whip use is less closely scrutinized, which may have profound implications for horse welfare. We used pressure-detection pads to examine the force on the impact of 288 whip strikes (left forehand, left backhand, right forehand, and right backhand; n = 72 each) in batches of 12 consecutive strikes by 6 right-handed jockeys based in Victoria, a state in which thoroughbred racing is always conducted in a counterclockwise direction. The mean latency (±standard error of the mean) to complete each series of 12 strikes was 6.89 ± 0.44 seconds. The mean for force was 46.90 ± 5.39 N. Significant differences in force emerged between individual jockeys and in most interactions between jockey, hand and action. This highlights the problems the industry has in trying to enforce equity in whip use to satisfy punters while at the same time giving reassurances about horse welfare. The current results show that action (forehand vs. backhand) does not influence force on impact when using the nondominant hand. However, when using the dominant hand, these jockeys struck with more force in the backhand (P = 0.02). This result challenges the curr
ent focus on welfare concerns around forehand whip strikes. It should inform any review of the rules around whip use because it may help to avoid any unjustified focus on either forehand whip use or backhand whip use. This would help to inform the debate around levels of impact on fatigued horses when they are being struck for a perceived sporting gain.

From the journal

Journal of veterinary behavior

ISSN : 1558-7878