Coventry Equestrian Center

Switching the Whip
Our Background and Philosophy
Coventry FACEBOOK Page
Our Facilities
Upcoming Events
Horses for Sale or Lease
Some of our Successful Students
Dressage Over Fences
Coventry Juniors
(OLDER) In Stride..CEC's Newsletter
Coventry's Newsletter
Recommended Reading
Stretching your Horse - Yoga for Horses
Training Articles
Published Articles - Instruction and Advice
Published Articles: Photo Step-by-Step Guides
Published Articles - Interviews and Clinic Reports
Favorite Quotes
Western Dressage
Our Photo Album
Favorite Links
Clarion Calls Herbs and Herbal Articles
Contact Us

A step-by-step approach for
gracefully changing the whip from
one hand to the other.                          
by Kristin Hermann
 photos by Beth Fornaro
published in Dressage Today, 1994

The Traditional Method

In dressage, the whip is included as an aid. It is considered one of the three driving aids, the other two being the seat and the leg. Most riders categorize the whip as an artificial aid because it is not a part of the body. Some argue that the whip is the most natural of all the driving aids since horses by nature will respond to its sting (just as they do to a fly's), whereas they have to be conditioned to respond reflexively to the other two. The whip is never used as punishment, but only to initiate more activity from the horse's hind legs or to augment the rider's seat or leg aids. However, if the whip is not in the right spot at the right time, a rider might as well be carrying it as an ornament - it will be no more useful.



Normally, riders carry the whip on the inside of the horse. At times, we may choose to carry it on the side with the 'lazy leg'. However, one of the more frustrating moments for a rider is to need the whip for the horse's right hind leg and to be holding it in your left hand. Although it is possible to ride with two whips, most purists frown on this approach. It is, therefore, to the rider's advantage to be able to switch the whip from one hand to the other so as to not lose the moment or the continuity of the exercise.


The most widely used technique is to pass the whip over the horse's withers with the mushroom end of the device toward the ground. An alternative technique is to pull the whip through the hand. Choosing one procedure over the other is simply a matter of preference either yours or your horse's.


If your horse is nervous about the whip, accustom him to it before you cross it behind his head. Learning the technique on the ground first will make it easier when you're in the saddle, allowing you to then concentrate on positioning the reins and consoling your horse, should he need it. Change the whip cautiously until you are confident that your horse is not scared and accepts your new practice.


Refining either method requires a modicum of knowledge and a couple of practice sessions. The steps outlined here may seem awkward at first, but will eventually become second nature. The end results are well worth the time it takes to perfect the process.


An Alternate Method
Click on the link to go back:
Published Articles - Instruction and Advice