Miniature Horse World Magazine - Page 70

The Whip and I By Suzanne Border  Using the whip correctly when training your driving horse can greatly improve his performance in the show ring. T he driving whip is one of the most misunderstood pieces of horse equipment. There are many folks who consider themselves “drivers” who have never learned to properly use the whip as an aid in performance, viewing it only as method of punishment. An explanation of the proper application of the whip as an aid may cause you to view the whip in a different light. When you ride a horse, you use your hands, your legs, your voice and your weight to produce a collected and balanced performance from your horse. You must also have a bond of trust with your horse that you use to communicate. This link between you must be developed, so if you are not the person who started or trained your horse thus far, you have some homework to do. With a horse in the cart you are limited to only using your hands, your voice and your whip- which actually functions as your legs. If you are a serious competitor and enjoy winning, then you need to step up your game and become acquainted with the whip and the proper application of this valuable aid. This would not be considered the proper arm position for safe and effective driving (also you are banging your horse in the mouth with your rigid position). Your driving whip should be carried at a 45 degree angle, so it is in the proper position when you engage it. The length and the weight of the lash an important component, and the way you apply the lash of the whip is equally important. The correct way to move your horse forward into the bridle is with a gentle side to side, gentle wrapping motion. This is the finesse part of driving that gets lost in the shuffle. You encourage the horse to move up into the bridle with the aid of the whip, while gently holding a steady “feel” with the reins. Not pulling the horse back into frame with the bit. You gain a forward flow from the horse that looks easy and natural, not a performance that looks hard and forced. The type of whip you use for this training is a bit different than the style you see in the driving classes. Exhibitors are typically seen using a dressage whip of sorts, very rigid, that has a lash tip of 3-4 inches in length. The correct length of whip to use for this exercise will reach the point of the horse’s shoulder, and no more. If you have your arms and hands in the proper position, bent at a 90 degree angle, you have enough distance to the point of the horses shoulder to carry a proper driving whip. If you have your arms lifted straight out in front of you, reaching up for the bridle, you do not. 68 Miniature Horse World O ctober / N o v ember 2 0 1 5 Photos courtesy of Susan & Al Bulgawicz