The Purpose of the Whip

I know I’ve been using my whip incorrectly.  The purpose of the whip is to reinforce the leg.  I’ve been using it to get my horse moving any way I could.

What tipped Barbara off that PJ wasn’t not responding to my whip as an extension of my leg aid was his reaction during a walk exercise she had us do.  The exercise involved half-halting PJ so he gave me a marching walk, then putting my leg on and sending him forward.  His reaction should have been to take a bigger step, round his back, and reach down with his head and neck.  What I got when I put my leg on (when he reacted at all) was a quicker walk.  That meant he wasn’t responding to my leg right, most likely because previously when he didn’t respond to my leg I whacked him one to get him moving.

I had traded one problem for another.  The first thing Barbara did was roll up my square saddle pad so that I could use my whip right behind my leg (where it’s supposed to be) instead on further back on his flank or butt – he couldn’t feel it with all of that pad in the way.  PJ was definitely surprised the first time he felt me tickle it there.  Then we just worked on me getting him to march and sending him forward, using my seat more as I put on my leg.  That was the key – keeping his back up with my seat.

It took many times of going around, and he naturally did it better to the left than to the right.  I’m not sure exactly what that tells me.  We tried it at the trot but ended up working more on my position and his bending than half-halting and going forward.  Something more to practice.

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