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'Barbaric' whipping of horse in Pistorius race

By Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 9:22 AM EST, Fri December 14, 2012
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, a six-time Paralympic gold medal winner, raced an Arab horse on Wednesday.
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, a six-time Paralympic gold medal winner, raced an Arab horse on Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Animal rights organizations criticize "barbaric" whipping of horse which raced against Oscar Pistorius
  • Double amputee Pistorius, a six-time Paralympic gold medalist, beat an Arab horse on Wednesday
  • World Horse Welfare describe jockey's use of the whip as "completely unnecessary"
  • The use of the whip is horse racing has been cause of much controversy in Britain

(CNN) -- Animal welfare groups have criticized the "utterly barbaric" whipping of a horse which competed in a race against Paralympic icon Oscar Pistorius.

The South African double amputee, who made history by competing in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, beat an Arab horse in a race in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday -- as part of a campaign highlighting contributions made by people with disabilities.

World Horse Welfare, a body which advises on rules for international equestrian competitions, branded the treatment of the horse, which started the race 15 meters behind Pistorius, as a "disgrace".

"World Horse Welfare are appalled at the way the jockey used the whip which was not only completely unnecessary but utterly barbaric," the organization told CNN.

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, will race a horse in Qatar on Wednesday. The one-off event is to show case the contributions made by disabled people. South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, will race a horse in Qatar on Wednesday. The one-off event is to show case the contributions made by disabled people.
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\'Blade Runner\' Oscar Pistorius 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius
Paralympian superstar Oscar Pistorius

Read: Pistorius to race a horse

"Excessive whip use like this is a disgrace to racing as a sport. We applaud the achievements of Oscar Pistorius and his race could have been a great spectacle, but instead it was marred by the flagrant abuse of this horse."

Prior to the race against Pistorius, World Horse Welfare had said it had no problem with the horse competing providing it was treated fairly.

"We commented on the race beforehand to say we didn't see any immediate welfare concerns providing the horse was treated well. Clearly it wasn't," said the body's deputy chief executive Tony Tyler.

In a statement to CNN, six-time Paralympic gold medalist Pistorius -- who also reached the semifinals of the Olympic 400 meters competition -- said he was unaware of any ill treatment to the horse.

"I participated in the race in good faith as it was to promote abilities across sport and I was totally unaware of any alleged excessive force being used on the horse," said the 26-year-old.

"I don't condone any ill-treatment of animals and would always hope that a horse would be ridden in the correct way. Those who know me well are very aware of my well-publicized care and love of animals."

The organizers of the race were not immediately available for comment.

The use of the whip in horse racing has been a source of controversy in recent years, notably in Britain.

Regulator British Horseracing Association completed a 10-month review of whip regulations in November 2011, recommending its use be regulated, with bans issued for excessive use.

Penalties, which can include losing prize money, become more severe depending on the number of times a jockey breaches regulations.

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