Riding Tip of the Month

Crops: Their Purpose and the Proper Way to Use Them

Crops are used often in horseback riding. They act as an extension of your arm or leg in order to reinforce your commands. If you’re riding a lazy horse, you may want a crop to help get them moving. Hold the crop in your dominant hand (unless your horse likes to cut corners and veer away from the fence; then you may want to hold it in your inside hand) and gently tap the horse behind your leg. You should only tap a horse with a crop if they have ignored your previous commands. Crops are only used as a last resort if your horse isn’t listening to you, and should never be used to punish or intentionally hurt the horse. If you are whacking your horse and leaving marks on them, you are hitting them too hard. Horses may also associate the overuse of a crop with something they are frightened of. For example, if your horse is afraid to cross a stream, and you are continuously whipping them with a crop, it will probably only make them even more afraid of the stream, and next time, they will be even more reluctant. Crops are a great tool to help make your horse obey you, but should only be used as a reinforcement, not a punishment.