Whip Use and Risk for Racing Falls

A study conducted by scientists at the University of Liverpool in England found that the risk of falling in hurdle and steeplechase races was significantly associated with whip use and a horse's progress while competing. The results of the work appeared in a recent issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal.

The researchers looked at video recordings of races conducted at six British racetracks. Horses that were being whipped and progressing (improving their position) in a race were greater than seven times at risk for falling compared to horses that were not being whipped and had no change of position or lost position through the field. In addition, horses that were improving in position and not being whipped had a much lower risk of falling when compared to those progressing and being whipped.

"Horses are obviously racing to progress through the field and win races, and this is therefore not modifiable," the scientists concluded. However, "whip use is a potentially modifiable intervention via the introduction of restricted whip or whip-free races," they wrote. "Jockey education regarding use of the whip and positioning at fences relative to other horses may also be useful."

About the Author

Deirdre Biles

Deirdre Biles is the Bloodstock Sales Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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