The Horse Whip is an Important Aid for the Carriage Driver

For driving you need your hands, your voice and a horse whip.
These are the three main aides.
Compared to a rider, who has got close contact to the horse and whose main aids are his legs and weight, a carriage driver needs to give aides with an arm prolonging instrument.
A driver needs to wear always driving gloves while driving to ensure a safe grip at all times.

How to use a whip correctly?

A carriage driver needs a coach whip as an extension of the right hand to give helping aides to the horse.
Never make a noise with a driving whip.
Cracking is seen as amateurish and upsets horses unnecessarily.

Aides are given for:

  • forward driving
  • collecting
  • correcting

The driver needs to reach easily, without bending forward too much, the shoulder or forearm of the horse/s while driving.
He does this only ever, when the left hand holds all reins in basic position and the right hand holds only the horse whip.
This is achieved by a relatively long shafted horse whip developed uniquely for this purpose.

You hold it in your right hand all the time to ensure to have this worthy aid "at hand" when you need it.
If you ever held such a long instrument in one hand at a defined angle, you have probably realized very soon, that it starts to become heavy, the wrist or, in worse cases, even the elbow, shoulder and neck will eventually hurt.
Now, if the ladder is the case, you should definitely look for a quality product that is balanced!

A driving whip needs to be well balanced.
This helps enormously to keep the effort of holding it minimal.

Note, that a longe whip, which is around 4-5 feet long and has got a lash of approximately the same length, is not to be used for carriage driving:
it is way too heavy to be hold in the right hand together with reins at a defined angle, and the lash would be too long for driving.
It would certainly get tangled in horse tails, mane, harness, traces and vehicle parts.
You see, this is another a safety issue!

How long should a driving whip be?

Basically, its shaft or stock is about 4-6 feet long and the lash is usually around 12 inches long.
Its length exceeds that from a dressage whip significantly.
How long for definite, depends on your individual needs: what size horse, what carriage or horse drawn vehicle you drive, how tall you are yourself...
So, you need to find out what length is sufficient for your needs, which length you need to reach easily enough the horse's shoulder or forearm.

What types of coach whips are available?

There are different "models" available:

  • the bow-top or swan-neck whip
  • the drop-thong or "jucker" whip

The bow-top shaft should be made of hard, semi-flexible thorn wood.
The thorn wood has got nobbly bases of the thorns which hold the lash well in position on the stick.
It is the whip used for an elegant, full collar harness or an elegant "town" turnout.

The jucker or drop-thong whip is correctly used with a breast collar harness, or the so called "country" turnout.

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