Riding whips help to direct horses or to move other animals out of the way. Several kinds are made for use in the hunt, in speed or jumping disciplines, for dressage, for horses pulling loads, or to help train horses. Make sure whichever you choose suits the correct purpose.
A relatively stiff but flexible length of fibreglass or cane, a riding crop generally measures 61 to 76 cm. A loop of leather called a "popper" alerts the horse; the grip at the other end should be comfortable to hold. Show jumping and hunting, horse racing, rodeo barrel racing, and other speed sports require riding crops. Different associations may specify the lengths for crops for use in competition, so be sure that what you buy will qualify.
Similar to riding crops, jumping bats or whips have a wider "popper", which makes more noise to get the horse's attention. They often come with special easy-to-grip handles, with some modelled on golf club handles for all-weather comfort. Some include wrist loops, which some riders may consider risky. A loop can keep the bat from being lost if a rider loses grip but can lead to injuries in a fall if the bat and loop become entangled around the wrist. Jumping bats, as well as riding crops, come in glittery versions for young girls learning to ride.
Whips for the Hunt
Hunting whips are made from stiff stock with a hook at one end to open gates and a long lash to keep hounds away from horses. Hunting crops come without lashes and are considered suitable for women or children. Classic English whip-makers providing hunting whips include Swaine Adeney Brigg & Sons Ltd., with its first Royal Appointment to serve King George III, and Edward Goddard, which has sold more than 12 million whips since its establishment in 1887.
Schooling Crop for Dressage
The schooling crop used in dressage can reach about 109 cm maximum. The schooling whip is more flexible to allow the rider to reach back and tap the horse's rear quarters while keeping both hands on the reins.
Long Whips for Driving and Training
Two kinds of horse whip measure 1.2 m and longer. Lunge whips have a 1.2 to 1.5-m flexible shaft and a lash of equal length. They are mostly used for training a riderless horse in the ring. However, some riders find a lunge whip cracked on the ground is helpful to gain the attention of a horse they are riding. Driving and carriage whips also have shafts 1.2 to 15 m long. They are used for driving horses as they pull carts or carriages.