How to Use a Dressage Whip

My previous post focused on how to hold a whip. That’s all fine and good, but unless you know how to properly use one, it can do you more harm than good.

The Wrist is Wright:

Despite the image of a jockey furiously whipping his horse to be the first across the line, the use of a whip in dressage is all about finesse.

The leverage point for a whip is not in the elbow or shoulder, but rather in the wrist. The pinky closes and opens to adjust the angle of the whip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You should be able to rotate your wrist without the use of your elbow.

If you want the whip lower, you open your pinky. If you want the whip higher toward the croup, close your pinky. That opening and closing may seem subtle but has large changes down by the end.
Now turn your wrist just like turning a doorknob. That is the same rotation to use when applying the whip. You could turn the doorknob sharply and suddenly and therefore give a sharp tap, or you could turn the doorknob gently for a slight touch.

Meanwhile your elbow is busy opening and closing with the gait movements, maintaining the rein length and essentially doing NOTHING with the whip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good exercise for practicing this movement without the elbow getting involved is to put your back and upper arm against the wall, with your elbow bent and forearm sticking out in front of you. Rotate your wrist and judge for yourself how much or little your elbow wants to help.  When in the saddle you can then mirror the effects of your at-home exercise.

Ride on,

Tim and Eros

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