A brand new study into the nerve endings of horses has discovered that the animal does in fact feel pain in a very similar way to humans. Naturally, this has brought up the question of whipping, which is, unfortunately, a long-accepted practise in horse racing.

Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science at the University of Sydney, Paul McGreevy, said in his brand new scientific study “humans and horses have the equivalent basic anatomic structures to detect pain in the skin.”

For a long time it was assumed that because horses naturally have thicker skins than humans, they essentially did not feel any pain when being whipped during races. By looking at the nerve endings of the horse, McGreevy determined this was not actually true, and that humans and horses had similar feelings of pain, which is… not good for horses.

“Our conclusions are that we need to accept that the physical capacity of horses to accept pain is clear,” McGreevy told the ABC.

“There is physical evidence to inform the discussion and the debate around the ethics of whipping horses.”

To make things even more interesting, McGreevy also looked at the speed and performance of horses in ‘whipping free’ races across the pond, and those in Australia which encourage the use of the whip.

“We found no significant difference to the movement of horses to the left or right across the course, the safety of jockeys and even the finishing times of races.”

So there you have it, folks, apparently it took a scientific report to tell us that whipping animals is bad.

According to the ABC, the current rules around the use of whips by jockeys is that they may use a padded whip up to five times non-consecutively in a race until they eventually reach the 100-metre mark, where from thereon out the use of the whip comes down to the discretion of the rider, which is a lot of ouches.

Racing Victoria has been starting the conversation around the total banning of whips, and Racing Victoria Chief Executive Giles Thompson made this clear in a statement, where she said:

“Australian racing has been left behind when it comes to reforms on whip use.

“Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and key states in the USA have either implemented or announced significant reductions in permitted whip use and have seen great competitive racing continue.”

He do be making points.

Meanwhile, Racing NSW is rather pro-whip for some reason, with CEO Peter V’Landys stating that “we’ve got to educate the public the whip doesn’t hurt”.

No matter your stance, the science is now in, and it’s time to act accordingly.

Image: Getty Images / NurPhoto