Writing about horses ~ 2nd instalment

This morning at the stables we were discussing whips.  Or crops, as some of us call them.  Others refer to them as sticks…

And one of my friends, who shall remain nameless, was talking about how she almost never uses the crop on a horse.  [She’s a fine, fine horsewoman…] 

In general, she brings the thing hard down on her leg which is encased in a half-chap, hitting her boot.  Because it’s the sound of the whip as much as anything which says to the horse, “Oi!  Pay attention, will you?” 

But of course, there’s always the time when one smacks one’s leg very hard and, er, oops, the chaps somehow remained at home that day.  And crikey does that sucker sting.  And yes, it can leave a welt. 

I should mention that horses have thicker skins than ours.  But in general, my point is, we don’t whip or hit our horses very much. 

It’s counterproductive for one thing.  If you smack them every time they do something a little naughty or are a bit dozy, then they become inured, and you have nothing on which to fall back when they’re really acting up.  And they think you’re a prat and so won’t hesitate to chuck you off.

It’s all a delicate balance.  Plus, we generally like them.

So, if you’re thinking that the ordinary rider uses the crop as much as you might see a jockey riding the flats do, forget it.  We don’t.  We just don’t. 

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6 comments on “Writing about horses ~ 2nd instalment

  1. Or if you’re me, you don’t even carry a stick, at least when riding MY horse. My daughter can – she can even give him slap with it if needs be. But not me.

    You see, before we bought him, a MAN gave him a pasting. We don’t know what for, but can make a guess. His owner/breeder, who I’ve known for years, had loaned him out to a local ‘showjumper’. The arrangement lasted just a few weeks – she took him back as she wasn’t happy about how he was being looked after. And since she and her daughter subsequently rode him with no problems, she had no idea how his mind had been affected.

    So if you need a period villain to come to a sticky end, sneakily offer him a horse to ride who hates men.
    And give him a whip.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha…am laughing very hard. Okay, not that hard. It’s a sympathy laugh, really it is…

  2. cavalrytales says:

    Not very funny when…you both end up flat on the road after a very minor disagreement(superficial injuries to both and a new helmet)…or on the floor amongst the spare wings at a combined training competition after a panic caused by a slight saddle slip…or with two hoof-shaped bruises on the thigh after accidentally touching a sore spot (‘Oh, what are you doing on the floor?’ he said 5 seconds later when panic subsided). And he’s a softy, really.
    Sympathy gratefully accepted.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      I actually do know this horse…similar situation, he did a full handstand, and I, for once, do remember flying through the air with the greatest of ease, doing a full flip (reins still in hand) and landing (softly) on the long grass with nary a scratch. He nuzzled up against me and took another mouthful of grass.

      I bought a new helmet that afternoon though. Just in case.

  3. Sue Millard says:

    Yes, and here am I, a carriage driver, who has to convey my wishes to the beastie out in front with only reins, voice and whip – no bodyweight or legs. People look at my stick/whip/beater or whatever and imagine that because it is 5 feet long with a 4 foot lash, I MUST be a pervert – no, I sometimes need to TOUCH my lovely mare, whose nose is ten feet ahead of me, to move her over or tell her to pay attention. A folding stick of that length would be impossible to carry… so I have a whip, which can curl and reach her round the shafts. (Damn handy for keeping off too-inquisitive dogs, or playing Off With His Head with dandelion clocks, though.)

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