EVERYONE has a view on the new whip rule recommendations to be introduced in Britain, and most of those expressing themselves vociferously are people who have never ridden in a race. That is not to say they might not have a good case to make, for or against, but we do have to be careful that we see this issue through the prism of what’s good for racing.
The group that looked into the matter, and came up with the recommendations, included a broad spectrum of industry professionals, including professional jockeys. There appears to be broad acceptance of the recommendations, with a few suggesting they could have gone further. While not all of the 20 suggested changes will appeal to everyone, it is important to realise who contributed to the consultation process that ultimately brought these forward.
I have not ridden in a race, and would therefore respect the views of those who have done so. It appears to me that jockeys can see the reason for change, accept the inevitability of the changes, and will now have time to adapt their riding styles to encompass the changes. As long as horses and riders are not endangered, and assuming that they help to make the sport more appealing to the general public, I can see no reason not to embrace the alterations.
Those on the extreme wing about this matter would have the whip banned outright. Even my limited experience in the saddle would say that not having a whip (or must I now call it something else?) would be uncomfortable. If you have never sat on a horse, that concept might be a hard one to appreciate, but it can help enormously with balance as much as it does with encouragement.
No one condones whip abuse. As a safety aid and a guidance tool a whip is a valuable accessory. It must be used correctly, and the new recommendations when introduced will punish, more severely than at present, those who misuse the whip. That is only right.
From what I have heard and read, the best riders presently and of recent times understand why these changes are necessary. I applaud them for speaking candidly and honestly on the matter, and as professionals they will make the changes required. Hopefully this can now put to bed, for some time to come, the perennial debate about whip cruelty. If the sport does not make these changes, it could be forced to do so, leading to an outright ban on the whip.