For the last month I have been lucky enough to go out on hound exercises with our huntsman (on foot mostly). This has been amazingly educational and fun (except for those big hills!).
But I don't have a hunt whip. I've been able to borrow one some days but this morning had to make use of a stick
So what exactly should I get? A quick look through the interwebs has revealed an amazing array of types, lengths and prices. What is essential and what is nice to have? And is there any slightly cheaper options? (I'm currently hunting for a job, so don't want to spend too much).
So chuffed - the huntsman has asked me to whip-in this season, if I would like to give it a try. I'm very thrilled (and pleased and nervous) to be asked, but need a proper job before I can commit to buying a horse (darn it! Might take a while to find the job and horse that I want).
I use a child's whip, as I'm 5'2 and the womens and mens seem heavy to me. The lash is a meter in length, with an extra leather piece about 12" long and then the popper. This whip is the perfect weight and length for me.
What you want is a whip that is balanced and the proper weight for your body. A heavy man's whip would pull on my shoulder every time I cracked it and would be very uncomfortable. I even find the women's whip a bit heavy if it doesn' have a nice leather lash.
Ask what the sizes are you have been borrowing. Find someone who has a larger size and a smaller size and see what's most comfortable for you.
I'm just like you, except I already whip-in for our hunt and currently use a whip that is on loan to me from another whipper-in. I have a pretty powerful voice, so I can get away with being "whip-less" whenever I didn't have one lent to me, but the one I currently use is a ladies whip. It has a shorter lash, about 3 feet long I think, and then the popper. It's funny, because I love it to bits and it was made for the lady who lent it to me, who is much much shorter than myself! She is about 5'2 or so and I'm 5'10 =) But hey, it's whatever works and feels comfortable to you!!
So yes, like the person above said, ask about the type of whip you have been borrowing and try to buy one most similar, that's what I'll be doing =) It could be a hit or miss, because you may just not like the feel of the handle and what not (too skinny/too fat/etc), but GOOD LUCK! Whipping-in is a blast! You'll never want to go back to riding in the field =)
I would suggest you consider an ash whip, lightweight and perfectly acceptable. I went looking for photo examples and found that Billy Lindsey is selling whips and thongs and poppers via foxhuntingshop.com. He repaired a whip w/broken handle for me some years back and does good work.
I see his 6 ft thong goes for $150- and I will say that if you aspire to whip in from horse back, that's what you need. For one thing- many huntsmen I've whipped in to detest excessive whip cracking, and you need to be able to lay the whip on a hound from the saddle from time to time. Plus, as a whipper-in you might need to use that thong to pony a horse, or fashion a lead for a hound, or a number of other things, and three feet just won't work for that (three feet, you can get away with walking out hounds but on horseback it's really a length better suited for 'decoration' as a rider in the field).
As for the popper, well, you can buy one- you need one that will crack, not one of the cord 'decorative' ones if you are whipping in. But you can also make your own out of baling twine.
For those with small hands, light bones etc. might I suggest a childs whip handle. They come in variations of size also but are always lighter and thinner than womens handles. And be sure to try your handle out with gloves on to get a true feel. And be sure to also try it out WITH a lash on so you know the combination of hand /fingers used to hold it looped up AND holding reins. Wooden handles are often lighter and come in many sizes/feels. I use a knob end for foot hunting since I don't need the staghorn to open gates. I also like longer handles for walking out and shorter when riding. It's an individual "feel" kinda thing.
I just don't recommend buying without holding them since sizes vary.
And there are folks who make their own from pretty local wood. Most leather/saddlers can put the end pieces of leather on for you once you've done a handle. My ex used to make them out of red oak which is a beautiful pink/rose colored wood.
If you decide to order a fancier, more traditional style, this gentleman makes them. He is wonderful to deal with and open to a little customization: http://www.riding-crops.com/index.html You can also just order a lash for your own handle.
I like the shortest lash I can get away with since it's less to hold in your hand when not in use. A 1 meter lash just needs one loop, whereas a long lash has a lot more reach but goes through my fingers at least twice to keep it tucked up out of the way. Not such a bit deal on the ground, but a definite consideration for riding or wearing gloves.
I have been really impressed by the nylon thongs and know several folks (die-hards) who use them. They have a great crack, seem to hold up well and need little care. When I replace my current leather one, I expect to purchase a nylon one.
Get on the European E-Bay -- if I remember correctly, you go to the USA E-bay site and link to E-Bay UK -- a friend of mine from Germany turned me on to this. I got a fabulous hunt whip, barely used, lash, thong, and handle, complete, for $89!!!!! That was a few years back, but still. . . wonderful bargains to be had there, still, I am sure.
I recently bought an Australian lash made out of kangaroo leather.
It does not require oiling - which is very nice if a person is at all concerned about a bit of oil on his/her breeches, or just likes less maintenance.
It comes with an extra bit of thin leather that connects from the lash to the popper. This extra bit of length has proven invaluable in reaching a naughty hound - but it is not thick enough that I can tell I'm holding it. It's very nice.
I didn't care for it at first - then I realized it's not the lash that is bothering me. It's the kennel crop. It's unbalanced - too heavy and long. It fatigues my hand and arm. So I'll echo what other, more experienced people have written about the crop itself - find the right one. I prefer a longer lash even for whipping in on foot - but this is a matter of personal preference, I think. If I was on a horse I'd definitely go with a long lash, and if I was at all concerned about having to hold it and the reins coiled - I'd consider the kangaroo leather. The lash is thinner than the traditional lash. (and there is the less maintenance factor which may or may not be important to you)
I'll second what Beverley wrote about excessive whip cracking. It is a tool to be used lightly - because when you need to stop a riot or something equally horrible - you need those hounds to STOP. If they've tuned out the annoying whip cracker you may end up with a serious problems on your hands. When you crack it - is should make those hounds believe that the clouds just parted and God Himself spoke to them and said - no no bad dog.
You also do not want to frighten young entry, especially if you've got a hound that needs to develop confidence.
That is just my personal opinion and others may differ.
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
After a few more weeks of going out on foot and trying different whips I definitely want something with a thin but reasonably long handle. And I definitely prefer the longer lash. I think I've cracked the whip about twice in 6 or so outings, whereas I've had to pop a hound once or twice a time.
I'll second what Beverley wrote about excessive whip cracking...When you crack it - is should make those hounds believe that the clouds just parted and God Himself spoke to them and said - no no bad dog.
LOVE it! You just made my morning I'm now picturing that Simpson's cartoon of God in the clouds wagging his finger at a cowering hound!
How about whip repair? I have a lovely ladies/childs whip that met an untimely end on the arse of my young horse. The shaft is made of holly wood. I have all the pieces but the wood is not reparable, it needs replaced. Is it worth it to ship the pieces to someone to recreate it with new wood or should I just buy another and call it done? I loved the weight, size, thickness, unquiness, everything. The holly made for a very knobby finish, smooth of course, but very good to grip. No one near me, that I know of, would be able to rebuild it so I'd have to ship. Or give up now and search for another.
Oh, shoot, it doesn't cost much to ship. A favorite whip is for me like a favorite saddle, I hate the thought of having to acquire and break in a new one.
As previously mentioned, Billy Lindsey did a good job on a whip of mine for a very reasonable price. Eleanor Hartwell, Bridlespur huntsman, also makes wooden whips (and fly whisks), you can see some examples here (and other pages have her art):
And in the late 90s, John Tabachka did a splendid job of reconstructing an exploded breastplate for me (horse went down in a prairie dog hole at full gallop). Don't know if he is still doing repairs but I think he's reachable through Facebook.
Hmm, lovely whips in that link Beverly. I just went and spent my spare change on a micklem bridle and new sprenger bit so I'm afraid my hunt whip replacement plan will have to wait. I supposed I'll borrow my Mom's for a bit and hope she doesn't mind
I have a lovely ladies/childs whip that met an untimely end on the arse of my young horse. The shaft is made of holly wood. I have all the pieces but the wood is not reparable, it needs replaced. Is it worth it to ship the pieces to someone to recreate it with new wood or should I just buy another and call it done? I loved the weight, size, thickness, unquiness, everything. The holly made for a very knobby finish, smooth of course, but very good to grip. No one near me, that I know of, would be able to rebuild it so I'd have to ship. Or give up now and search for another.
I have an old one like that I don't need PM if you want pics.
In fact - I'm a whip hoarder.
I got a lovely used whip at Middleburg Tack Exchange several years ago. Not cheap but really lovely antler handle and engraved sterling silver bands. Plus she was selling new lashes, I think the 6 footers.... Based on the marks the whip I purchased looks to have been made in the 40's. I believe she picks up used ones in England from time to time and brings them back to sell.