Recent studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of whipping horses during races and this has led to questions concerning its continuing justification. Furthermore, it has been argued that whipping tired horses in racing is the most televised form of violence to animals. The present study used de-identified data from a recent independent Australian poll (n = 1,533) to characterise the 26% of respondents (113 females and 271 males) who support the whipping of racehorses and the 10% of racing enthusiasts in the sample (44 females and 63 males) who would stop watching races and betting on them if whipping were banned. Logistic regression models examining associations between age, gender, and income level of respondents demonstrated that those who support racehorse whipping are significantly more likely to be male. Among racing enthusiasts who would stop watching races and betting on them if whipping were banned, those in the lowest income bracket were over-represented. The more frequently respondents attended races or gambled on them, the more likely they were to agree that horses should be hit with a whip during the normal course of a race. These findings align with previous studies of violence among men and women but may also be attributed to male support of traditional gambling practices. Globally, racing organisations may consider the findings of the present study helpful in their deliberations on the merits of continuing the practice of whipping tired horses in the name of sport. The study might also provide important data for stakeholders who demand that it continues.
McGreevy PD, Griffiths MD, Ascione FR, Wilson B (2018) Flogging tired horses: Who wants whipping and who would walk away if whipping horses were withheld? PLoS ONE 13(2): e0192843. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192843