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RSPCA Australia is calling for changes to race rules to allow whip-free racing after new evidence has highlighted the pain they cause to horses.

An investigation on ABC's Catalyst found that horses have more pain-sensing nerve fibres than humans, contradicting the argument that whipping horses doesn’t cause them pain.

“The Australian Racing Board has previously said that if whips cause pain, they shouldn’t be used – this evidence indicates that they do. Combined with earlier research that shows whips don't even improve performance, it’s high time for the whip to go,” said Dr Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist.

“Hands and heels races are already taking place in a number of other countries; Australia should be following that lead.

“There is still a view that the whip acts as a safety device for jockeys, so enabling races to be held where riders can carry the whip but only use them for safety purposes would be an ideal first step,” said Dr Jones.

Further research, contributed to by RSPCA Australia, supporting these findings was published earlier this week; A Critical Analysis of the British Horseracing Authority’s Review of the Use of the Whip in Horseracing.

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