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Becoming Ambidextrous w/ the Whip?

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  • Becoming Ambidextrous w/ the Whip?

    I am a very strong right handed person. I cannot write or do much of anything with my left hand.

    When I'm riding, I am strongly LEFT handed. It's bizarre. I don't use my left hand for anything except when I'm in the saddle. I also find it easier to hold the longe line in my left hand but it's only slightly noticeable. I am slightly weaker in my right hand than my left with the reins but it's gotten much better over a couple years.

    The real problem is holding the whip while riding. If I have it in my left hand, it feels totally normal. If I put it in my right hand, I have a hard time paying attention to anything besides trying not to drop the whip. I open my fingers on the reins and just hold it very awkwardly. It pretty much screws up anything I'm trying to do with my right hand.

    For several weeks I've been trying to make a point of using the whip in my right hand. I start my warmups with it in my right hand to accustom myself to it while not taking up much contact or asking a lot from my horse.

    Anybody else had this issue before and do you have any tips to resolve it? I know it will resolve eventually if given enough time and forcing myself to use the whip in my right hand. But I think that will be a very long, frustrating time that I would like to speed up if at all possible. At the rate I'm improving now, I'm thinking it would be over a year before it improved greatly and several years before they're equal (as as equal as they'll ever be).

  • #2
    Pick up the reins as you normally do, thumb on top of forefinger , fingers curled lightly into palm, The circle of your thumb and forefinger is your rein anchor, it also should have room to slip your whip into. Do not grip your whip!!! It should lie lightly across your palm. The cap of your whip rests on top of the circle of your thumb and forefinger.

    Now sit yourself on a stool, hands out in front of you as though riding, practice just flicking your wrist. Not moving your hand or arm, just a slight wrist rotation.

    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


    • #3
      I'm strongly right handed and have trouble using the whip in my left. What someone advised I do is carry something in my left hand as much as possible during the day. Don't know if its working but I guess its worth a try!


      • #4
        I would try holding the whip in your right hand on the ground for a few minutes before mounting and maybe walk around a bit, adjust your hands on the whip, get comfortable. Then, I would try mounting and riding with the whip in your left hand for 5 minutes then switching hands to the right hand for another 5 minutes. I know I feel the same way when something is bugging me-- I cannot focus on anything else but that one thing. Not sure if this'll help, but maybe eventually you'll get used to it...?


        • #5
          Originally posted by TequilaMockingbird View Post
          Anybody else had this issue before and do you have any tips to resolve it? I know it will resolve eventually if given enough time and forcing myself to use the whip in my right hand. But I think that will be a very long, frustrating time that I would like to speed up if at all possible. At the rate I'm improving now, I'm thinking it would be over a year before it improved greatly and several years before they're equal (as as equal as they'll ever be).
          I spent 30 years with the whip in my right hand and only for awkward seconds in my left. I told multiple trainers that I could not coordinate the whip with my left hand and they let me get away with it.

          I started riding with Courtney King Dye about 2 years ago. She asked me to put the whip in my left hand and I told her I couldn't coordinate it well.....she said then you should ALWAYS have the whip in your left hand, never in your right, you can not ride well if you can not use the whip well with both hands.

          So I started riding with the whip ALWAYS in my left hand (I have 2 horses, one that needs the whip, one that does not and is VERY sensitive , so if the whip even moves too much or barely touches her at the wrong time it will make her a little tense). I did not believe that I could coordinate it well with my left but I did believe Courtney that a good rider needed to be able to use the whip with both hands.

          Any way with in a week it was not an issue!!! Within 3 weeks, it seemed normal. Also, I often ride with a double bridle so I could even figure out holding the whip and shortening the snaffle rein without shortening the curb or having the curb flapping. After all those years of muscle memory and all that self belief that I could not do it, who knew!!

          So now, I still generally have the whip in my left hand, my gelding needs it in my left hand and its more natural. Now it feels like the whip should be in my left.


          • #6
            Last year I decided that I really needed to be able to use the whip in both hands with my current horse.

            I always rode with the whip in the right, no matter what, so I began forcing myself to hold it in the left at all times unless I actually needed it on the right. Soon as I didn't, flip it back to the left. Yes it felt foreign, yes I sucked a actually using it on the left, yes I randomly touched my horse with it sometimes.

            I only have one horse, so maybe it took me longer, but after about 4 months, I suddenly realized it no longer felt weird. I still wasn't as good or precise with it in my left as my right, but at least I could hold it and use it in both hands.

            I still occasionally flub with it in the left hand, but it was time well spent acclimating myself to using it on my off side.

            I also have made a point over the last year to attempt to do other things with my left side - eat, brush my teeth, use my computer mouse, etc. The more you do, the easier it gets.


            • #7
              I too forced myself to have the whip in my "off" hand (in my case right was nice, left sucked) always unless I needed it specifically on my right, then flipped it back asap. I have no idea when it became a non-issue to hold/use it in my left hand, but it had been there long enough that I felt "off" about holding it in my right hand! That took almost no time to go away and now I don't even have to think about it, I can ride with it in either hand.


              • #8
                Coming from saddle-seat land, the whole way of holding the whip was foreign to me. I had a very difficult time learning to let it lay quietly when I didn't want to use it. And then learning to put it on the left? Yikes. What I did was ride with one in each hand for awhile. That way you can become comfortable holding it on your off side, and you can still have the aid you need on the other. After that becomes easy, then move to carrying just one and using it on whichever side is necessary.
                Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                • #9
                  I, too, got the "always use it in your off/bad had until it's fixed" thing, and it helped but I realized I had another much bigger problem with the whip -- when I used it my horse absolutely felt the change in contact on his mouth. And the only way I could fix this was to practice for a week or two at home, on a stool with reins attached to something else, holding the whip, and trying to "use" it without the "horse" feeling ANY backward pressure on that rein. I don't think I ever got useful instructions from my trainer on the two things I had to change: how/where I actually HELD the whip and reins in my hand, and what I did with my hand when I needed to use the whip.

                  My husband sort of "cheats" by not trying to have the whip touch the horse anywhere but wherever he happens to be holding it, which usually means he just touches his own thigh. But his horse is much more sensitive and this works for her. But with MY horses, if I just tap my OWN thigh, well... my horses find that adorable. And meaningless.


                  • #10
                    Thank you everyone who has given advice! My horse typically needs the whip on the left and I'm left handed, but lately we have been doing work where I need the whip on my right. He is sensitive and if he gets unintentional and undeserved whip touches it sets off bucking sprees. I have been using a crop so the end doesn't reach him and holding it in my right hand as much as possible. In ,y horse's case, hitting myself with the crop (or no one, and just moving it outward) is enough for a response.
                    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.