Changing social values and new technologies have contributed to increasing media attention and debate about the acceptable use of animals in sport. This paper focuses on the use of the whip in thoroughbred horse racing. Those who defend its use argue it is a necessary tool needed for safety, correction and encouragement, and that it does not cause the horse any pain. For those who oppose its use, it is an instrument of cruelty. Media framing is employed to unpack the discourses played out in print and social media in the UK (2011) and Australia (2009) during key periods of the whip debate following the introduction of new whip rules. Media coverage for the period August 2014–August 2015 for both countries is also considered. This paper seeks to identify the perceptions of advocates and opponents of the whip as portrayed in conventional and social media in Australia and the UK, to consider if these perceptions have changed over time, and whose voices are heard in these platforms. This paper contributes to discussions on the impacts that media sites have either in reinforcing existing perspectives or creating new perspectives; and importantly how this impacts on equine welfare.
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