Skip to main content

Horse Racing: Animal Welfare

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 1916, tabled on 10 January 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of banning the use of the whip in horse racing.

Answered on

20 January 2020

Defra is keen to ensure that we uphold our high standards of animal welfare including in relation to horseracing. Irresponsible use of the whip is completely unacceptable.

The British Horseracing Association (BHA) requires that whips be used responsibly and jockeys may only use the whip within certain strict rules. The BHA policy on the whip was drawn up in consultation with animal welfare groups, such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare and is published on the BHA website. The latest rules include a threshold on the number of times the whip can be used before racing stewards can consider an inquiry. If the rules are broken, the jockey may be banned from racing for a certain number of days depending on the seriousness of the offence. Stewards also have the ability to impose a fine on a rider between £200 and £10,000.

In addition to sanctions from the sport, using the whip indiscriminately on a horse could be a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Defra is satisfied that the laws and rules in place are sufficient to restrict and limit the use of the whip in horse racing.