PETA Australia Challenges Horse Whipping Cruelty in Criminal Prosecution

PETA Australia Challenges Horse Whipping Cruelty in Criminal Prosecution

London – Today, PETA Australia 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.

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. Under Tasmania’s animal welfare statute, beating an animal and causing an animal unreasonable and unjustifiable pain or suffering are crimes. 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 are forced to take part,” says PETA Vice President of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi. “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.”

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.

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 NSW – 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 the welfare laws, PETA Australia chose to file the private prosecution.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


Sascha Camilli +44 (0) 20 7923 6244; [email protected]