PA approves new harness racing whipping standards

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The Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission today imposed stricter standards to safeguard equine athletes from direct contact with whips during harness racing at the state’s tracks.


“Harness racing is a timeless sport that relies on quality horses, so protecting our equine athletes is a top priority,” said Greig. “We have worked with horsemen, judges and industry leaders to develop these standards for the safety of the animal without sacrificing the quality of Pennsylvania racing.”


Drivers must now use two hands on the reins at all times, which restricts motion of the whip to a flick of the wrist and forearm. Whips are normally used to strike the sides of the sulky or the horse’s saddle pad, generating the “cracking” sound that encourages horses faster down the home stretch.
“Our new policy on whipping now becomes the most progressive in the country,” said Harness Racing Chairman Jonathan Newman. “We care about the horse and hope families will come to the races to enjoy this wonderful sport together as the best racing is here in Pennsylvania.”

The commonwealth is home to three state-of-the-art harness racing and gaming complexes. Harness racing is featured at 16 county fairs throughout the state. The commission and the department are committed to investing in Pennsylvania Racing and will continue to develop Pennsylvania’s reputation as a superior place to breed, train, race and enjoy horses.

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