So if you haven’t heard Harness Racing Australia (HRA) will bring in a complete whip ban in September 2017. Now you may think this doesn’t effect you if you aren’t into harness racing… but I urge you to reconsider that thought.

Here is a press release from HRA

The most pertinent aspects to my discussion are as follows:

“10 December 2016 – Australian harness racing is banning the use of whips in training and racing from 1 September 2017 in a world-leading animal welfare initiative that improves the industry’s image and enhances its sustainability… “Between now and the implementation of the whip ban, we will consult widely in the industry, especially with drivers and trainers, and with animal welfare advocates, such as the RSPCA,” Mr Want said… Mr Want said animal welfare would continue to be addressed during the transition to banning the whip, and the industry would seek input from the RSPCA going forward.”

Now I only found out about this development via a facebook post from Andrew McLean…

File 29-4-17, 10 43 18 am

Now with 232 comments and 91 shares at the time I took the screen shot its safe to say that it got some traction, both positive and negative. I personally ‘Loved’ the post and commented something like ‘Great Job’ (I think)… now to be clear I wasn’t initially commenting on the implementation of a whip ban – I was loving and applauding Andrews involvement to try and pull things forward and initially a whip ban didn’t sound like a bad idea…


As an aside to my actual point of this article I do need to say something. There was lots of support for Andrew’s involvement and there was also lots of attacking, directed at Andrew and his supporters. Mostly this was based on the fact that Andrew uses a dressage whip heavily in his training system and there were many comments in the vein of ‘Hypocrite’. Now to be fair based on the HRA press release and Andrews own comment…

“I was there on invitation to explain how you could still train racing and in particular acceleration using the tools of learning…” Andrew Mclean

I understand that Andrew was NOT part a part of the decision making process that chose to implement a complete whip ban – so to all the lynch mobs out there, you need to back off Andrew.  Thanks…


BUT what you can do is go hunt down the people who actually decided this was a good idea, because I want to know who they are also and kick their arse… because…

On second thoughts I think a complete whip ban sets a very very dangerous precedent in the equine industry… one I don’t agree with…

Why? Well I am looking at it this way, HRA has called the ban “a world-leading animal welfare initiative”, so to me to me that says…

That everyone else who continues to use a whip is compromising their horses welfare…

Which is plain and simply not true… there is no evidence to suggest that utilising a whip compromises equine welfare… there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that RANDOM whip use does (when horses have not been trained to respond to the whip in a particular way). So why the HELL did HRA make this decision? Pressure from the uneducated… simple as that… they bowed to the uneducated public who makes the most noise and yells the loudest. They made their decision from a place of fear in EXACTLY the same way the Australian Govt did when they imposed a full live export ban.

And it is THIS fact that scares me terribly…

The governing bodies that are supposed to protect and support their industries and their people are willing to crucify them for the sake of a positive publicity vote…

A general public that very often has ZERO CLUE

How long till Equestrian Australia or the FEI throws us all under the same bus?

Now I am ALL FOR REFORMATION and CHANGE in our industry – we need a shit load of it. As a Dressage/Showjump/Event rider we seriously need to look at our own whip usage, rein tension norms, bit usage, nose band usage and spur usage; because the evidence is clear that A LOT of what is common practice is pretty damn questionable and unessential.

But please Equestrian Australia or the FEI, if you get ideas on reformation… please, please, please, don’t make your decision’s on some punch drunk post-truth general public…

I would totally be applauding HRA if they pulled in Andrew to look closely at their whip usage, training practices etc in order to figure out how to ‘clean up’ their industry in order to align with Equitation Science equine welfare standards and subsequently be able to present a truly ‘equine friendly’ HRA to the general public. Bravo!!! I would be singing your praises from the roof top…

However they didn’t do that… they dropped a nuclear bomb on their own people… and if this ruling holds I am very much afraid the fall out will effect all of us eventually…