Use of whips in training? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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Question Use of whips in training?

I was at my usual lesson today - my instructor is a pretty reknowned horse trainer and I'll go ahead and say that he does a great job. His horses respond very well to cues, are forgiving with novice riders and are generally well-behaved.

However, while I was grooming, I saw him working with a "spirited" QH. The horse was being stubborn, so the instructor whipped him a few times. He used a really long whip unlike one I've seen before and it made a very loud sound when it struck the horse. I was shocked and kind of disgusted. I know little about training, so I said nothing, as upset as I was. I just bought my own horse and I intend to use a more natural horsemanship approach. The whip seemed cruel.

So, I'm just wondering if whipping like this is normal?? It seemed a little unnecessary to me.
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post #2 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:45 AM
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Depends on what the horse was doing. If it was pushing all over the trainer and not backing off with a gentler request, then a couple of quick whacks with a dressage whip is a good idea - much better than asking the 'pretty pony to please not jump on me any more'.
Remember that horses are big, and very tough animals. They don't hesitate to land a hefty kick on each other in the paddock - a few flicks of a whip aren't going to hurt - it's actually more the noise that gets the reaction from them, not pain.

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post #3 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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That's good. I don't quite know the threshold of pain that a horse endures at the end of a whip or I can't say if the horse was in pain or not. It seemed pretty aggressive to me, but in due time I'm sure I'll find out what discipline is needed to get a horse back in line. I reckon he knows what he's doing. It was just sad to see. I can't yet speak from experience. I think it's like discipline in child rearing - different strokes!
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post #4 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:51 AM
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I use a driving whip when I do some of my ground work, but it is an extension of my own hand. Its mainly used to help cue and reinforce what is already asked. They may get a pop with it when being particularly lazy (or if they do something dangerous), but its only after several cues before hand that the horse ignored. Its usually not hard enough to hurt, but it is enough to get their attention.

Even natural horsemanship gurus have their version of a whip. i.e. handy stick, carrot stick - and I've seen those used with more force than I typically see someone use a real whip.

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post #5 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:53 AM
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If it made a loud noise it probably had a leather 'popper' (does it have an actual name?) at the end of it, designed to make a noise. This is not abuse, and does not actually hurt the animal. If you can find something that looks similar, try smacking your leg with it to approximate the noise that it made while you were there, and you will likely find that while it stings a little at the moment that it contacts your leg, its really no worse than if you stick your hand out the window in the rain while driving on the freeway and the raindrops sting a little. For a horse who is refusing to pay attention, it is an effective way to say "HELLO!? ARE YOU LISTENING?!"
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post #6 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:54 AM
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I would not do that to my horse.

If a horse was aggressive towards me then I wouldn't hesitate to smack him to deter him from being aggressive again.

But over and over and over.. was the horse doing something to warrant that kind of reaction? It sounds kind of like, from what you're telling me, it was an anger-influenced reaction.
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post #7 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
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The horse wouldn't back into a corral. So the discipline struck me as odd since horses can't see behind them anyhow and so I wouldn't blame a horse for being hesitant. The instructor is a no-nonsense, impatient guy and he expects what he expects from his horses. His work is effective but his actions today had me stratching my head.
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post #8 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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The whip looked like a really long piece of rope with nothing on the end. I'll have to sneak a closer look next lesson.
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post #9 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by VACowgirl View Post
That's good. I don't quite know the threshold of pain that a horse endures at the end of a whip or I can't say if the horse was in pain or not.
No better way to find out than to whack yourself with one. Seriously. I've taken a dressage whip to my bare leg a few times, just to see what a smart whack feels like, and honestly, it is, at worst, a very mild sting. I think you'd be surprised how little pain is involved.
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post #10 of 25 Old 06-24-2012, 01:06 AM
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Eh. Sometimes a good smack is what really gets through to them. In the herd, how do you think they establish their pecking orders? Not very nicely. A human with a whip (that isn't going to use it like an idiot) isn't going to hurt the animal. Just one pop is all it takes 98% of the time. The other 2%, you have a horse with a real dangerous respect issue.

I have nothing wrong with seeing someone give their horse a what for. It's people that
a) Take it too far
b) let the horse get away with it
that really bugs me.
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