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Major change to whip rules made to promote welfare

Only one type of whip will be allowed at British Showjumping (BS) competitions from next year in a major change to BS rules, made to promote horse welfare.
From 1 January 2020, only cushion-type whips will be allowed, while changes have also been made to the governing body’s spur rules.

BS said the changes, which apply to all members, came about as a result of discussions between the officials’ working groups, and the BS national sport committee, which have also looked at rules in place in other equestrian disciplines and in racing.

BS chief executive Iain Graham said: “As a national governing body of equestrian sport one of our primary objectives is to ensure equine welfare is always paramount and we see the introduction of this rule as a positive way of meeting this”.

The new rule also states: “Only one whip may be carried and no substitute for a whip may be carried. A whip, if carried, must be held in the hand by the handle with the handle at the top.”

Zebra Products is the UK distributor for Fleck, one of the companies making whips that will be allowed under the new BS rule.

Managing director Simon Middleton told H&H he thinks the change is positive.

“They’re cushioned, so they’re kinder,” he said. “They’re thicker and padded, and I think this is a good decision — a lot of eventers use them already.”

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Mr Middleton added that Fleck is to look at manufacturing a whip aimed at being more attractive to showjumpers while complying with the new BS rule.

BS is also making changes to its spur rules, so only dummy, rollerball, rowelled, hammerhead and Prince of Wales spurs will be allowed. This new rule states that the overall length of any spur may not exceed 4cm for seniors, while rowels must have a diameter of between 1cm and 2cm.

In pony competitions, spurs must not be longer than 2.5cm and rowelled spurs are forbidden.

For more on the rule change, and recent research into whip and spur use, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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