Use of the whip on horses

We have concerns about the potential physical and psychological damage caused by the use of the whip on all horses (not just racehorses) and the wider message it could send about the treatment and welfare of animals.

Our position on using whips on horses

Following discussion with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), our Ethics and Welfare Group has helped to develop a BVA holding statement on the use of the whip on horses:

A whip, like any other equestrian aid, is a potential risk to horse welfare. There are occasions in all equestrian sports when the use of a whip helps to keep horse and rider safe. However, excessive or inappropriate use of a whip is always a welfare issue. BVA is in principle opposed to the use of aversive training aids on animals, due to concerns about negative welfare effects of such aids. BVA believes that there is a need for further research into the mechanisms by which the use of whips affects performance and behaviour in horses, and into the short and long term physical and psychological effects of the use of whips on horse welfare.

This holding statement takes account of BEVA’s policy statement (254 KB PDF) on the use of the whip.

Related policy guidance