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New Pennsylvania Whipping Rules

Published: September 25, 2014 1:46 pm ET

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On Thursday, September 25, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that it is imposing 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 George Greig, the state’s secretary of agriculture. “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.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture release states that 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.”

(With files from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

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