PETA Australia has taken a stand for horses and filed criminal charges in the Magistrates Court of Tasmania, alleging that the whipping of horses at Tasmanian racecourses violates the state’s animal welfare laws.
© Liss Ralston
Is whipping illegal in Australia? The use of whips in Thoroughbred racing in Australia is essentially self-regulated by the industry. The Australian Rules of Racing permit jockeys to whip horses up to five times prior to the final 100 metres of a race and an unlimited number of times in the final stretch.
However, under Tasmania’s animal welfare statute, it is a crime to beat an animal and to cause an animal unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering. The proceedings commenced by PETA Australia will test the legality of whipping horses on racetracks on both fronts.
There is nothing reasonable or justifiable about whipping a horse relentlessly to the finish line of a race in which they are forced to take part. Horses experience complex emotions and don’t want to feel pain. They deserve the same level of consideration in law as the dogs and cats with whom we share our homes.
Whipping Horses Is Ineffective and Cruel
In July, the British Horseracing Authority opened a consultation on the use of the whip, and two Australian studies have shown that whipping is ineffective and causes horses pain.
A third study on leg fractures in horses on UK racecourses found that horses who were whipped in the last 10 seconds of a race were more likely to sustain a fatal fracture. Whipping is putting horses’ lives at risk.
Why PETA Australia Is Taking Legal Action
PETA Australia and the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) met with the animal welfare manager for Tasracing, Tasmania’s racing authority, more than a year ago to express concern over the use of whips, point out that whipping violates the state’s anti-cruelty statute, and offer support to help implement changes.
PETA Australia and other animal protection groups – World Animal Protection, CPR, and Animal Liberation – then co-signed a letter to Tasracing requesting a meeting to discuss the issues and see if there was a way forward. PETA Australia’s lawyer then met with Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson, but Eriksson refused to engage further and informed PETA Australia that Tasracing had no plans to explore banning or restricting whips.
Faced with this ongoing, widespread violation of animal welfare laws, PETA Australia chose to file the private prosecution.
What You Can Do
Horses all over the world are whipped and forced to race, often leading to fatal injuries.
Please never attend or bet on a horse race, and join us in asking companies to stop sponsoring the Melbourne Cup: