Initial reports on the reaction to the new whip rules have been positive, according to Harness Chief Steward Nick Ydgren.
“I have been encouraged by how many drivers have been taking steps in then last week or two to 'lessen the shock' when it is imposed. Sam Ottley and Craig Thornley are very good examples of this, but even drivers getting in touch to see if their new action complies has been heartening,” he told the Association.
He stressed that Stewards would be concentrating on education and working with drivers during the month of October to change what for many, are the habits of decades of driving. Personally, while there have been grizzles, I have been pleasantly surprised at the lack of kick-back from Canterbury and Southland drivers against the changes, although apparently the North Island reins-persons are not quite so accepting.
It is, whether we like it or not, the way of today, and when the World Trotting Conference decrees that measures to minimise whip use should be introduced, it is not realistic to expect New Zealand to ignore that ruling. You only have to check out a website I found, rather pointedly entitled www.horseracingkills.com.au to see what pressure is being applied by powerful animal rights groups across the globe.
Incidentally, to clarify a part of the new Rules, all tassles and or flaps must be removed from whips after 1 October.