View Full Version : dumb question - using a dressage whip ???

Sep. 5, 2009, 01:00 AM
I started taking lessons with a new trainer on my green horse. Horse is very pokey and tends to easily get behind the leg. I use a crop to jump but when we're doing flat work I want to do my best to keep the contact so my trainer gave me a dressage whip to use.

This one to be exact: dressage whip (http://www.doversaddlery.com/product.asp?pn=X1-1462&ids=54292733)

I feel dumb but I don't think I'm using it right. I always tend to smack myself in the leg or if it's far enough back it hits my leg first and doesn't really hit him.

What am I doing wrong?? :confused:

Sep. 5, 2009, 02:49 AM
Carry the whip so that it rests across your thigh with the end pointing backward. To use it, just give a quick flick of your wrist to make the end of the whip touch your horse. The whip may still contact your leg higher up, but you have to learn to finesse it so you get the desired location and degree of contact.

Maybe practice on a friend.:)

I have that same whip and it is very nice. I may get another in the longer size.

Sep. 5, 2009, 04:49 AM
Usually as you get more stable and supple and deeper seat, it becomes easier and easier to control the whip. What you're talking about really is kind of normal at the beginning. The more you worry and get tense about it, the longer it takes to relax and get down in the saddle.

Sep. 5, 2009, 06:02 AM
I have that whip in the longer size. Very nicely balanced.

Whips are held the way LarkspurCo has indicated in her response.

Whips can be used in different ways, depending on the horse. It may not be necessary to "hit" him with it. When my girl gets behind my leg I just need to vibrate it on my thigh and she responds.

The longer the length you hold it at, the more the vibration flicks the end at your horse. Some days, when she is more sensitive, I need to hold it shorter so that the vibration is more subtle. Other days I need to hold it longer so that the lash actually contacts with her skin. Takes some experimentation.

Just remember that the whip is an aid reinforcement. Don't use it to replace your aid; use it to enforce your aid. In other words, if you are doing a leg yield and your horse is not responding to your leg pulses, you use the whip *with* the pulses, not in replacement of.

My 2 cents

Sep. 5, 2009, 07:38 AM
the whip can also be used with a tap on the shoulder for forward if that makes it easier for you.

Sep. 5, 2009, 08:46 AM
Sit yourself on a stool, and practice holding and using the whip, and rotating it from side to side.

The whip is held in the loop created by the thumb and forefinger on the reins, it should lie loosely in your palm. Then when you need to use it, a slight rotation of the wrist will activate it. If you grip it with your whole hand, the whole hand must move which destroys the softness of your contact.

To flip, it reach softly across the holding hand, grip the whip with your thumb up, just below your holding hand, and rotate into the new hand allowing it to slide down so that the cap nestles in the loop of your thumb and forefinger.

Since it is the leg that is being ignored, the whip should be used behind the leg. It can be used to remind a horse not to drop on his shoulder, but that is a different aid that is being ignored.

Sep. 5, 2009, 11:55 AM
Practice out of the saddle and remember to stay loose and relaxed with your body. The whip should be used with a simple flick of the wrist.

Good luck and have fun!

Sep. 5, 2009, 12:02 PM
Just remember that a dressage whip is used to TOUCH and not to smack.

Sep. 5, 2009, 08:57 PM
Since it is the leg that is being ignored, the whip should be used behind the leg. It can be used to remind a horse not to drop on his shoulder, but that is a different aid that is being ignored.

Christoph Hess would tell you that tapping the shoulder is for forward as well, not just behind the leg;)

Sep. 5, 2009, 09:10 PM
It can take a bit of coordination when you use a longer whip -- especially switching sides. You may feel awkward for awhile, but you'll get more coordinated, the more you ride with one.

As others have said, the whip is an "aid"..not like a bat to get a reluctant horse over a jump.

Think of it as an extention of your arm (for ground work) or leg (u/s work) where the limb you need to direct the horse simply cannot reach...whether it is the front end or the back ;).

But always use it judiciously -- no "niggling" so they ignore it , yet no "smacking" without "asking first".

When you start thinking of it as an extension of your own body (legs/hands), it will come to you with practice.:)

Sep. 5, 2009, 11:43 PM
Took everyone's advice today and practiced on the arm of my couch before I went to the barn...

Rode today and pony was waaay more responsive and our leg yields (very primitive leg yields) were awesome!

Will continue to practice and hopefully improve :yes:

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 6, 2009, 12:59 AM
And maybe try and think of it this way, tagging along after Equibrit:

Think of it as a "zap" with the emphasis not on the hitting down, but zinging up and away. Try it on yourself, to get the feel - think of it as a way to isolate a specific muscle group and get that group to respond, not as a punishment, but as a "waking up" of the muscle, to help the horse know that is the one that needs to be activated and respond.

Sep. 6, 2009, 06:31 PM
I have no real advice to add as you have received great advice. All I have to say is THERE ARE NO DUMB QUESTIONS! I used to be terrified to ask questions on this board because I was afraid the questions were too stupid. I feared the DQs!!! I quickly learned that the majority of the people who post here are super nice and are very helpful :)

Sep. 8, 2009, 11:51 AM
I carry a longer one most of the time and leave it across my thigh. I can give a tap on the top of his behind if he is not moving out or right behind where my leg is to give a little reminder that my leg is there.