The use of whips by jockeys is an issue. The current study viewed opportunistic high-speed footage of 15 race finishes frame-by-frame to examine the outcomes of arm and wrist actions (n = 350) on 40 horses viewed from the left of the field. Any actions fully or partially obscured by infrastructure or other horses were removed from the database, leaving a total of 104 non-contact sweeps and 134 strikes. For all instances of arm actions that resulted in fully visible whip strikes behind the saddle (n = 109), the outcomes noted were area struck, percentage of unpadded section making contact, whether the seam made contact and whether a visible indentation was evident on impact. We also recorded use of clockwise or counterclockwise arm action from each jockey’s whip, whether the whip was held like a tennis racquet or a ski pole, whether the hind leg on the side of the impact was in stance or swing phase and whether the jockey’s arm was seen traveling above shoulder height. The goal of the study was to characterize the area struck and the visual impact of whip use at the level of the horse. We measured the ways in which both padded and unpadded sections of the whip made impact. There was evidence of at least 28 examples, in 9 horses, of breaches of the whip rules (one seam contact, 13 contacts with the head, and 14 arm actions that rose above the height of the shoulder). The whip caused a visible indentation on 83% of impacts. The unpadded section of the whip made contact on 64% of impacts. The results call into question the ability of Stewards to effectively police the rules concerning whip use and, more importantly, challenge the notion that padding the distal section of whips completely safeguards horses from any possible whip-related pain.
McGreevy PD, Corken RA, Salvin H, Black CM (2012) Whip Use by Jockeys in a Sample of Australian Thoroughbred Races—An Observational Study. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33398. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033398