Paull Khan - News from the EMHF
Published in European Trainer - October - December 2017, issue 59
In the wake of the now infamous incident in which jockey Davy Russell was seen to strike his horse on the head prior to the start of a race, the marked difference between the media reaction in Ireland (more forgiving) and that in Britain (more damning) was commented upon.
Just one example of the wide variation, as between European countries, in public opinion on horse welfare, and animal welfare more widely. In some regions, the ‘volume level’ of discussion of such matters is turned up high; not so in others.
In a sport with no global Rules Book, it would be strange if these cultural differences were not reflected to some extent in the practices and regulations of individual Racing Authorities. And sure enough, they are. Indeed, what a country’s Rules of Racing says about its culture would make for a fascinating study. One could make a crude start by marking up, on a map of Europe, the number of whip strikes allowed in a race by the various countries. Very broadly, it would resemble a climatic map of the continent, with higher numbers accepted in the hotter south, reducing as one travels north until reaching the point of zero tolerance in Norway.
Skim through the Rules Book in any of our countries and you will find a plethora which promote the welfare of our racehorses. In many cases, that aim is indeed their sole purpose. These Rules and procedures fall into many categories – from the horse-care component of the course which a trainer must pass in order to be granted a licence, to the requirement for a minimum number of vet’s to be present before a race meeting can take place, to enforced stand-down periods following the administration of certain veterinary interventions, to the mandatory abandonment of jump racing when the ground is designated ‘Hard’ – the list goes on and on.