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Whips – what is the difference and what to use when?

If you read my training blog, you may have noticed that I use a variety of different whips in varying lengths, depending on what I’m doing with the horse. I wanted to take a minute and describe what I use when, and clear up the difference between these types of whips.

Lunge Whip – Lunge whips are long, usually around 5 ½ feet with a lash that is the same length. I use this whip for working in the round pen and doing in hand work. The length helps you keep your distance in the round pen when you need to, and also helps reach all the way back to the hindquarters during in-hand work.

Driving Whip or Carriage Whip – This whip is about 53” in length and I use it for lungeing and working on ground manners.

Dressage Whip – I use these for riding and occasionally for ground work, but they don’t have quite the length to be as useful on the ground. Dressage whips are about 39” in length.

Crop – Used exclusively for riding, typically around 28.” I rarely carry a crop, if I need a whip while riding for whatever reason, I will usually use my dressage whip.

Bat – Also used exclusively for riding – shorter than a crop, usually around 18” or less. Most commonly carried by jumpers or event riders. Same as with the crop, I never really use a bat.

So the three whips that I keep around the barn for working with my horses are a lunge whip, driving whip, and a dressage whip. If you only want to buy one whip, I would recommend a driving whip. The size will be most versatile in its uses.

Now one more lesson in whip terminology – the shaft of the whip is the stiff part, the lash is the long, “rope -like” part of the whip, and the popper refers to what is on the end of the whip, on a lunge whip it is usually a short string, on the shorter whips it is sometimes a piece of leather.

You will find that whips, as most other things, come in a wide variety of qualities and prices. I normally go with the cheap ones, they still last a long time and personally I don’t need a fancy handgrip or premium leather popper.


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