The whip wasn’t good enough for this jockey.
Before a steeplechase race at the Tramore racecourse in Ireland last month, jockey Davy Russell punched the horse he was riding — Kings Dolly — in the back of the head. That earned Russell a four-day ban, according to Racing UK.
Russell was initially given a caution for his actions, which the BBC said came when the horse pulled up at a pre-race “show” hurdle. However, there was an outcry on social after video of the incident appeared (this is from Twitter user Samantha Quek):
Russell told At The Races that he gave the horse a slap in the neck, which was needed to get its attention.
“At that stage she was out of control and I felt that if I had to continue in that vein during the race I would have had a very difficult time trying to control her in the race,” Russell said in a interview that At The Races shared on Twitter.
“I felt I needed do something just to let her know there was someone on her back and a slap on the soft of the neck I felt was the appropriate action.”
According to The Independent, Russell’s caution was reviewed and was found to be too lenient by Josh Byrne, the registrar of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee.
David Muir of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was pleased with the decision.
“Davy Russell is not a bad jockey, and it was out of character, but hitting a horse like he did is completely unacceptable. It’s a nonsense,” Muir told The Independent.
“Where he struck her is a major muscular area and it probably hurt Russell more than the horse — but that doesn’t make it acceptable. Horses, like any other animal, should be treated with respect, and punching one is disrespectful.”
That’s something we all learned in the movie “Blazing Saddles.”
Hat tip to the Washington Post.