Introducing a whip to my horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-14-2013, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Introducing a whip to my horse

I have an OTTB mare who needs something extra other than only leg cues, so I had wanted to carry a dressage whip for the times she needs a little extra umph or when she needs a subtle reminder to listen to my leg. However, regardless to whether I have a crop or a whip she freaks out once I get on. I ran the crop or whip over her prior to getting on and she is totally fine with it, and I have yet to use it at all when mounted, but when I am holding it she just runs for awhile and only gradually calms down as long as it isn't touching her. She doesn't seem to be afraid of it, rather it seems to just piss her off, and i'm wondering if there is some way to get her used to it other than with time alone. Thanks!
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-14-2013, 07:54 PM
Join Date: May 2013
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When you sit on her with it, rub her neck on both sides, holding the whip in your hand. Don't deliberately rub her with the whip itself- but it just happens to be in your hand that is giving her pets and that's ok. If you can have someone stand at her head reach back and do the same on her hindquarters. Nice and calm.

When working be careful not to accidentally tap her with it, but when she needs the aid make it the slightest tickle of a touch- not a pop on her rump. Make sure you are ready with this correction if she gets all bent out of shape about it and redirect her attention- bend her or do a figure eight. She has to realize that it isn't the end of the world and no need to throw a tizzy fit with a little pressure from you. Good luck!
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post #3 of 5 Old 11-14-2013, 08:14 PM
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She already knows what a crop is, that it's meant to make her go forward.

Spend more time on the ground desensitizing her to it. Rub her all over the place and also get her used to it moving around, waving through the air etc. When that is good, make sure that she is respectful but not fearful of it as a tool. Ask her to move her hindquarters around then go back to just rubbing her.

When she's good on the ground go ahead and mount. The groundwork should of taken the fear and or over reaction out, however go ahead and keep her head flexed when you mount. From there, repeat the desensitizing. Rub her all over with her head flexed. If she wants to move that's fine but it will be moving her hindquarters away which is a safer option for the both of you. Keep rubbing till she stands still. Repeat until you can rub and move the whip without her wanting to move in the first place. From there switch sides and repeat. When you switch sides, switch the side her head is flex on. Only when she is good with the whip moving and rubbing her at a standstill should you progress to the walk.

At the walk rub her again, if she goes to react, bend her to a stop and rub till she's relaxed. Then walk off and repeat. It could take a few rides for her to think of the whip as a benign object so just stay patient.

Once she is calm with the whip at the walk, trot and lope can you progress to actually using it. Again start at the standstill with her head flexed and just move her hindquarters around with it, if she reacts instead of just responds, just tap the air till she moves around calmly about it. At this point you need to make sure your desensitization is still working, make sure you can passively rub your horse without a reaction.

From there go ahead and use the whip as you would want at the walk then the trot then lope once that's good.
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-15-2013, 09:24 AM
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I used to retrain a lot of OTTBs and OTTQHs. Most are OK with a whip on the ground but only know how to run faster when you 'cock' or move a whip on their backs. I was able to get all of them to accept a whip. Some always got a little nervous, though.

One of the first things I did with every horse off of the track was teach it to 'give me its head'. This is now called a 'one rein stop'. Then, any time a horse tried to have a 'come apart' or tried to 'bolt', I could simply take its head away and bring it to an instant stop. Then, I would start all over with what made it come apart and after a few stops, it just gave up the behavior of blowing up or bolting. You MUST teach the horse to give you its head at all gaits BEFORE you try to take its head away in an emergency!!! This was about the first thing I taught every horse off of the track -- no exceptions.

I also found that it helped A LOT if I did not try carrying a whip when I first got on a horse. I introduced whips (like every other NEW or scary thing) at the end of a long ride. I figured out years ago that a 'fresh' horse was a lot more reactive than a tired one, so I do anything new (or upsetting) at the end of a long ride, never at the beginning of it.

Then, I used to start waving a whip when I was riding on rough trails (not dangerous ones hanging off of cliffs) and going into brush and really rocky and rough footing. Husband always rode to a place south of us where he could ride in deep sand where a creek changed courses. A horse does not stay silly or scared very long in ankle deep sand.

I went through this same routine if the X-race horse was going to be tried for polo or roping.

If this horse has already learned that it can bolt with you if you carry a whip, I would also do this:

First -- teach it to give you its head. That should be first no matter what.

Next -- at the end of a long ride, take him into a tiny pen (I would recommend one only 20 or 30 feet across) and get him to where he will let you move a whip around when he has no place to go. That would be a good time to end your ride, dismount there and lead him out.

Hope this helps.

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post #5 of 5 Old 11-15-2013, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Today I did the exercises with my dressage whip on the ground and they went relatively well, but upon mounting she flipped out... So I ditched the dressage whip and grabbed a short crop and repeated the exercises and mounted and she gradually calmed down and let me hold it the entire ride, only getting upset when I switched it to the other side after changing directions... I think I am going to gradually carry longer whips until I am at my regular whip since this seems to be working well, thanks for the tips, especially the exercises from the ground!
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dressage , eventing , hunter jumper , mare , ottb

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