News and STORIES

Jockeys Guild taking New Jersey racing commission to court over riding crop rule

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Friday November 13, 2020

Jockey's guild taking legal action

The New Jersey Racing commission made the controversial decision to eliminate use of a riding crop during horse races and while the device is still allowed to be used for safety, it’s still not sitting well with some jockeys. In fact, the Jockey’s guild has gone so far as to hire a lawyer to take legal against the commission. They already appealed the ruling in the supreme court of New Jersey Appellate division.

“We strongly believe the rule adopted by the New Jersey Racing Commission will have serious consequences and could result in even greater risks and dangers for both the horses and jockeys,” said Guild Co-Chairman, John Velazquez. “There are many instances when we need to be able to use the riding crop to prevent a dangerous situation from occurring that is not able to be seen or known by those who are not on the horse's back.

Riding crop controversy

The news comes months after several racing commissions across the world have limited or outright banned the use of a riding crop during horse racing. The reason for this is that some animal rights activists claim that the instrument hurts the horse and are drawing an increased amount of public attention to the matter.

“Beating horses to make them run faster should never be allowed, under any circumstances. Whipping a horse two times in succession instead of three is still beating a horse Peta said in a statement after California moved to limit the device,” Striking a horse with the whip in the downward position is still beating a horse. The California racing industry is arguing to be allowed to abuse horses, and the public and state legislators must not stand for it. PETA certainly won’t.”

Peta even followed up that statement by purchasing several stocks in the horse racing industry and promising to change the sport from the inside. The animal rights group is saying that they have purchased just enough stock in these companies to sit in on stockholder meetings, which will allow them to present new measures to ensure safer racing.

PETA releases requests for safer horse racing

The organization has already published a list of requests for stockholders on their website, which include synthetic turf for all racetracks, a mandatory ban on foreign buyers to avoid slaughter and the eventual removal of the riding crop. That’s only a few of their more requested changes and the list is extensive in terms of changes.

While PETA and other animal rights activists want the use of a crop to be limited or outlawed, jockeys are claiming that it is a matter of integrity. Furthermore, they claim that having the crop allows them to steer the horse to avoid any hazards that may present themselves. If nothing else, the argument comes down to it’s a matter of safety and that is being taken away.

Commissions siding with PETA?

Again, why are commission boards so eager to ignore the cries of jockeys in favor of gaining social justice points? Keep in mind they are trying to appease an origination that doesn't want horse racing to exist and you start to see the problem. If nothing else, this is going to lead to commissions making more rule changes in order to appease animal rights groups, which will only alienate longtime fans. It could also result in the sport becoming a shell of itself depending on what changes are actually made.

In the end, hopefully horse racing organizations can realize how warm the water is and have enough time to leap out. If not, they ultimately risk either destroying the integrity of the sport and maybe even the sport itself. Some might see that a little dramatic, but that is the end goal that PETA said they wanted to achieve.