The BHA recently carried out a full review of the use of the whip in British Horseracing. Read this review
Whip Use Rules
The technical rules on whip use by riders and the whips they are allowed to carry are as follows:
Schedule (B)6 - Use of Whip
The British Horseracing Authority will not tolerate abuse of the horse and consider its welfare, and the safety of the rider, to be paramount. The whip should be used for safety, correction and encouragement only and they therefore advise all riders to consider the following good ways of using the whip which are not exhaustive:
- Showing the horse the whip and giving it time to respond before hitting it.
- Using the whip in the backhand position for a reminder.
- Having used the whip, giving the horse a chance to respond before using it again.
- Keeping both hands on the reins when using the whip down the shoulder in the backhand position.
- Using the whip in rhythm with the horse’s stride and close to its side.
- Swinging the whip to keep a horse running straight.
The British Horseracing Authority has asked Stewards of Meetings to consider holding an enquiry into any case where a rider has used his whip in such a way as to cause them concern and publish the following examples of uses of the whip which may be regarded as improper riding:
- to the extent of causing injury;
- with the whip arm above shoulder height;
- rapidly without regard to their stride, i.e. twice or more in one stride;
- with excessive force;
- without giving the horse time to respond.
Hitting horses which are:
- showing no response;
- out of contention;
- clearly winning;
- past the winning post.
Hitting horses in any place except:
- on the quarters with the whip in either the backhand or forehand position;
- down the shoulder with the whip in the backhand position; unless very exceptional circumstances prevail.
- with excessive frequency.
When examining cases of Excessive Frequency, the Stewards will consider all the relevant factors such as:
- Whether the number of hits was reasonable and necessary over the distance they were given, taking into account the horse’s experience;
- Whether the horse was continuing to respond and
- The degree of force that was used; the more times a horse has been hit the stricter will be the view taken over the degree of force which is reasonable.
It is emphasised that the use of the whip may be judged to be proper or improper in particular circumstances which have not been included above.
Horses will be subject to an inspection by a Veterinary Officer and he will report his findings to the Stewards; therefore trainers may be required to remove or adjust rugs or sheets.
It is further emphasised that under the Rules of Racing trainers have a responsibility for giving instructions to their riders, which should include instructions on the use of the whip, especially with horses which may weal and when employing apprentice or conditional jockeys. Owners who choose to give their riding instructions must accept a similar responsibility. Failure to give adequate instructions or giving instructions which if obeyed could or would lead to a violation of this Instruction will result in disciplinary action being taken against owners and trainers.
The British Horseracing Authority warns all riders that Stewards of Meetings have been asked to exercise fully their powers under Rules (B)12 and (B)54.3 of the Rules of Racing in all cases of misuse of the whip, which the British Horseracing Authority regards as improper riding.
Further, they warn owners, trainers and riders that severe disciplinary action will be taken against any person who is found to be in breach of this Instruction resulting in serious injury to any horse.
To read our Guide to Penalties and Procedures which sets out the Racecourse Stewards' procedures following interference, the penalties and the whip rules, please click here
Rule (D)37 and Schedule (D)2 - Whip Specifications
Only whips which have been approved by a panel nominated by the British Horseracing Authority will satisfy compliance with Rule (D)37. In approving any such whip, a panel will have regard to all the specifications set out below including the mandatory shock absorbing characteristics.
The whips have been designed, constructed and approved for either Flat or Jump races and are only to be carried in those races for which they have been approved. For Flat races, a max length of 70cms for Jump races, a max length of 68cms.
- Maximum length, including flap, of 68 cms;
- Minimum diameter of 1 cm.
The only additional feature which may be attached to the whip is a flap. If a flap is attached it must fall within the specifications below:
- A maximum length of flap from the end of the shaft of 10 cms;
- A maximum width of the flap of 4 cms, with a minimum width of 2 cms;
- The flap from the end of the shaft must not contain any reinforcements or additions.
- There shall be no binding within 23 cms of the end of the flap;
- The contact area of the shaft must be smooth, with no protrusion or raised surface, and covered by shock absorbing material throughout its circumference such that it gives a compression factor of at least 6mm;
- The flap must have similar shock absorbing characteristics to that of the contact area;
- The weight must not exceed 160 gms.