A VERY good American friend suggested that I address the value of a properly used whip in this day and age, when some feel we can’t even carry one round the edge of an arena as it’s considered ugly for the public.
Firstly, a whip is not for keeping the horse going – it’s an auxiliary aid. It has been very evident at regionals and other championships that there are riders who are so reliant on carrying a whip that when the horse enters the arena it goes flump, after which the rider scrambles to ring the vet thinking the horse has a virus.
The first rule is to make sure you don’t use a whip all the time so you don’t come to rely on it. Used correctly, however, the whip is a very useful tool indeed.
Over the years I’ve had help from and ridden with trainers from the Spanish Riding School, which has taken my understanding of whip use in a totally new direction. In hand and while onboard, the priorities for whip use are a point of contact and timing. It’s a touch, with accuracy. Timing is everything and can take years to perfect. If the horse is not in rhythm, the use of the whip can cause tension, even irregularity.
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July 30, 2020