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Spare the Rod

In 2013, the spotlight on whip use in horse sport moved from the racetrack home stretch to the showjumping arena. Research conducted by Catherine Watkins and Darcy Murphy of Hartpury College in England and presented at the International Society of Equitation Science conference in Delaware suggested that whip use by both elite and (less surprisingly) non-elite level riders may be predictive of jumping faults on course. It seems that clear rounds are most likely earned by riders carrying – but not using – the whip. Why the sudden interest in show jumping vs. the racetrack? Watkins explains, “Research to aid rider and horse performance in all areas is on the rise … welfare of horses in sport is a key area of consideration.” More specifically, her interest was piqued by her childhood as an avid pony clubber. “I remember seeing horses whipped by their young riders when they did not…

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