A landmark scientific paper shows that horses have the capability to feel as much pain from whipping as humans.

The publication comes as the Australian racing industry is debating the use of whips and follows the $50,000 fine handed to jockey Kerrin McEvoy for excessive whip use in the Melbourne Cup.

That fine was subsequently halved on appeal.

Racing Victoria is leading a push to gradually phase out the use of whips altogether.

In a statement released in September, Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said: “Australian racing has been left behind when it comes to reforms on whip use.”

Racing NSW has a completely contrary view, with its CEO Peter V’Landys recently saying, “we’ve got to educate the public the whip doesn’t hurt”.

But the new study reports “humans and horses have the equivalent basic anatomic structures to detect pain in the skin.”

“Our conclusions are that we need to accept that the physical capacity of horses to accept pain is clear,” said the report’s author, Paul McGreevy, the Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science at the University of Sydney.


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