Ban the carrying of a whip (or similar) in any phase of the 2019 Badminton CCI**** event.
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In the aftermath of the badminton whip controversy may I put forward a suggestion which would undoubtedly receive worldwide approval and may allay some of the reputational damage done to our sport.
It has long been my position that Badminton boasts a class of rider and horse that nothing else in the world comes close to. The levels of skill, fitness, and bravery on both the part of the horse and rider required to compete are so high that we can be assured that only the true elite of the world are allowed to perform. This, therefore, makes it a perfect stage for a gesture in keeping with the mantra of the FEI that “the welfare of the horse must come first”.
Let us first consider why the whip would be needed at Badminton in the first place.
Bearing in mind the extreme experience that all horses and riders have had to display in order to qualify, it is impossible that there is anything there that is completely new or different to them … they will all have tackled similar fences many times both in training and competition.
Bearing this in mind, there are only three logical and conceivable reasons a horse should attempt to refuse to jump or tackle another obstacle without being whipped.
1. The horse is in pain.
2. He is exhausted. Badminton may well be further than he has ever been … in which case it is not his fault that he is not fit enough.
3. The rider has made a mistake regarding the approach.
I believe, whilst taking into consideration these three reasons, the mantra of the FEI “the welfare of the horse must come first”, and of course common sense, a whip is not necessary at this level of competition and using a whip in any of the three above situations if wholly and absolutely unacceptable.
If you accept these principals then you may well think it would be a golden opportunity to display the skill of the competitors AND our regard to the welfare of the horse, by putting in place a TOTAL ban on the carrying of a whip at Badminton in 2019.
Such a ban would be welcomed by every member of the public worldwide as I am sure that their overriding interest is for the safety and well-being of the equine participants, who cannot express their opinion on the proposal.
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