The Lunge Whip is an essential accessory of lunging training, along with the lunge line, the cavesson, and the side reins. In this blog, we are sharing important insights into mastering the use of the whip while lunging a horse and how the other accessories work with it for effective training.
What is a lunge whip?
Usually, the whip for lunging is made of a stick with an ergonomically shaped handle and long nylon, neoprene, or leather.
The stock of the whip should be around 6 feet long, light, and flexible but not floppy. The whip you choose should be easy to handle and light in your hand. The end, or thong, should be about 3 feet long so that you are able to touch the horse with the end of it.
Working with the whip
Start with the lash behind you
The end of the whip, or lash, should always start back behind you. The only way to use the whip properly is to start with the lash behind you. When you’re in a situation where the lash is in front of you, you’ll want to move it to the back to get the correct angle.
Never drop the whip on the ground
Once you have the lash at the correct angle, you’ll be able to communicate your aids effectively. When using your other aids, such as voice and body language, you want to ensure that you’re not forgetting about the whip and dropping it to the ground. Many lunging instructors will tell you never to set the whip on the ground. This is because:
• Firstly, the long-lunging whips are not an inexpensive tool and could easily break when stepped on by you or your horse.
• It’s also easy to forget you have set it down when you’re focused on lunging, making it an easy trip hazard or distraction.
• If you compete in equestrian vaulting, you will get disqualified for placing your whip on the ground.
If you have a horse who is scared of the whip, you do have the option to set it on the ground. If you do this, be sure to toss it as far outside of your circle as possible to avoid the possibility of the whip being stepped on. That is not the ideal situation but it is an option.
Carry the whip with you on your shoulder
Ideally, you would carry the whip with you on your shoulder as you move towards the horse, and then place the whip in front of the lunge line to cue him to stop. If he doesn’t know that cue yet, you can place the whip on your shoulder and use only your body language and a half-halt to get him to stop.
Alternatively, if your horse is one who doesn’t respect the whip as a cue to stop, your next step should be to step closer to him to make the circle smaller. Remember that you have multiple aids in helping your horse to stop – your voice, your whip, your half-halts, and your body language. You use your body language to show your horse the speed you would like him to go.
Your horse should be moving forward when your shoulders are open and your arms are out. Your whip should always be kept in a straight line flowing through your arm as a forward driving aid.
When you’re ready for your horse to slow down, then you close your shoulders and bring your arms in. You can also step slightly in front of your horse on the circle.
WATCH VIDEO: PERFECTING THE USE OF THE WHIP 👇
Your horse will learn that these body language cues, accompanied by your voice and your whip, mean that he needs to slow down or do a downward transition. Keep in mind that you should use your aids as quickly as possible and that your goal is to always go back to the open-arm position.
WANT TO BOOST YOUR LUNGING SKILLS? ENROLL NOW IN OUR E-COURSE THE ART OF LUNGING AND LEARN AT YOUR OWN PACE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BECOME THE BEST LUNGING TRAINER.