“We applaud the publication of this strategy. It represents a real watershed moment for British racing, as it not only sees the first truly integrated approach to equine welfare across the industry, but it also clearly recognises the importance of public perception and its relevance to the future of racing. We welcome the focus on not just the care of horses but their quality of life and basing decisions on rigorous evidence. The Board has been thorough in its rationale and sound in its recommendations, and whilst it doesn’t provide a detailed framework it certainly does set out a clear direction of travel that everyone within racing needs to embrace and be seen to be doing so.”Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive
The Board was explicitly asked to consider the use of the whip, and its strategy recommends that tougher penalties be imposed on inappropriate whip use, as well as an open consultation on its use for encouraging a horse to run faster – a debate the charity has called for over several years, querying whether its use for encouragement, rather than safety, can be ethically justified. The Horse Welfare Board also acknowledge that making an ethical case for the use of the whip for encouragement is ‘challenging’.
“Any penalty system has to bring about real behaviour change if it is to have any effect, something that we do not believe is the case at the moment, so we welcome decisive change here. We strongly encourage all involved with racing and the general public to take part in the forthcoming consultation on the use of the whip for encouragement. While the whip is not the most significant welfare issue, it certainly can be a welfare issue. For racing to have the acceptance of the public, and so maintain its social license to operate, it must reflect the values of the society whilst also constantly challenging the standards of equine welfare within the industry.”Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive
The Horse Welfare Board have said that an important cornerstone of the strategy is to work in partnership with those outside the sport who share a commitment to the practical care and well-being of horses.
“Without doubt there are going to some challenging days ahead but World Horse Welfare will support British racing to implement the Board’s recommendations, which have the potential both to create a bright future for the sport and enhance the wellbeing of the thousands of racehorses involved.”Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive