In Australia, whip rule changes were brought about in 2009 with racing authorities recognising that hitting horses with the aim of making them run faster was a PR nightmare, and as such the padded whip, and a number of restrictions were introduced.
Unfortunately, members of the racing industry (particularly jockeys), revolted and as such the whip rules have been so diluted and the penalties so impotent, they breached on a daily basis and are practically useless.
The introduction of the padded whip has also not significantly improved animal welfare outcomes, as it is still being used as a tool of fear to inflict pain. As the photo on above clearly demonstrates, the shaft is making contact with the horse, not the padded portion.
I understand that whip rule changes were introduced in 2009, however they have not gone far enough to protect the welfare of horses, with whip rules being breached frequently.
If the body that is charged with protecting racehorses in Australia is unable to fulfil that capacity, then I will vote with my feet and not patronise a horserace until the animals are treated ethically.