I think that whips are cruel.
How would we like to be whipped? It's hardly fair to whip horses.
Does anybody agree, and if not, why not?
Would love to hear some opinions on this.
What is cruel isn't the whip but it's cruel when a person misuses it for punishment.
How a bit is used can be very cruel if the rider yanks, jerks and basically tries to punish the horse with it.
Spurs can be cruel if the rider uses them to punish the horse by jabbing the horse with them.
Point is...it's not the whip. Take the stigma off the whip. It doesn't belong there. The "blame" belongs with those people who are cruel and who act cruel out of meanness or ignorance or both.
It is cruel to whip a horse. It's not cruel to use the whip to help the horse understand you better, to use the whip as an extension of your hand.
For example, I use whips all the time, like this:
I am standing facing the horse. The horse is facing me. I look at the horse's left shoulder. I want that left shoulder to move, to have the front feet cross over and the horse to turn to my left.
I look at that shoulder and I kiss or cluck and then I tap the air (1...2...3...4) with the whip and then if the horse doesn't move, I tap the shoulder with the whip with rhythm, never a whack. I tap softly, then more assertively and more assertively, never to sting the horse's shoulder, but to "bounce" the whip off the shoulder and the horse feels bothered, not pain, not fear, but bothered....and he moves that shoulder and I stop.
Next time, I do the exact same steps, then the horse begins to learn there's a pattern, and then the horse decides to move the shoulder when I simply make a kiss sound or cluck sound and then I don't even need to use a whip anymore.
This is the correct way to use a whip.
A whip is a great back up to a cue. It's a great way to help the horse understand you better and your goal should be to not need a back up cue, therefore phasing out the whip, but to begin with, you need to have a way to back up your cue and a whip is a great aid in this respect.
I never want my horse to be afraid of my tools. If he fears the whip, I'll make the whip a pleasant experience by rubbing his body with it and when he's comfortable with the whip, then I'll use it as I described above but I'll never use it to punish the horse.