Study Evaluates Forehand vs. Backhand Whip Use in Racing

Jockeys struck a simulator with significantly (approximately 15%) more force with the backhand than forehand.
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The modern animal welfare movement was born in early 1800s Victorian England to protect cattle, horses, and sheep from human cruelty. One of the catalysts for this movement was the whipping of tired work horses. Nearly two centuries later, tired horses are still being whipped, opined Paul McGreevy, BVSc, MRCVS, PhD, MACVSc, professor of animal behavior and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia—only now it’s in the name of sport.

McGreevy and his Australian colleagues have taken a research interest in the way racehorses are being whipped in public, which he discussed at the 9th Annual International Society for Equitation Science, held July 18-20 at the University of Delaware, in Newark.

"We’ve been looking at the impact and force with which whip strikes land when they’re delivered in the forehand (held like a tennis racket) and the backhand (held like a ski pole)," he said.

The Australian Racing Board’s Rules of Racing states that prior to the final 100 meters of a race, the jockey cannot use the whip in a forehand manner in consecutive strides or on more than five occasions. After the 100-meter mark, jockeys can use the whip freely at their discretion, the rules state

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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