Whips and spurs fall into the category of artificial aids; they are simply there to refine the aids you give your pony and the responses that he gives to you. They should never inflict pain or cause open wounds, and a dressage whip and spurs should only be used on the advice of your instructor.
In the case of spurs, you need to know that your leg position is good enough that you won’t be digging the spurs into your pony at every stride.
Jumping crops are short and as their name suggests, they are used in showjumping and can be found in different colours and styles. They have a clapper at the end, which makes a noise when clapped against the pony’s side to get his attention, not punish him. Their average length varies between about 45cm and 71cm.
Dressage whips are longer and vary from 100cm to 130cm. It is legal for children to compete with a whip that is 100cm long. Dressage whips may not be used in any discipline other than dressage.
They have a ‘lash’ at the end, which can be used to sensitise (tickle) a pony as a gentle reminder to listen to the aid, as well as flicking the end of the whip against your pony’s hindquarter with a flick of your wrist for a firmer aid.
A dressage whip is meant to reach the hindquarter or hind legs and to quicken the response of your pony in his hind legs, reminding him to engage more. They are never meant to be used like a jumping crop since this would cause pain.
Also, if a whip’s lash breaks off and there is broken fibreglass or plastic sticking out, then the whip must be thrown away. The sharp pieces or blunt plastic end can possibly cut your pony when you use it.
Spurs are used to refine the leg aids when riding, so that a pony becomes more and more responsive to a lighter leg aid. They should never be dug into a horse’s sides at every stride; all this will do is make your horse dead to the leg and possibly leave bald patches and create calluses.
There are many styles of spurs. Some disciplines have rules regarding what is legal and what isn’t. Get advice from your instructor as to what type of spur you should look at and make sure that it is correctly fitted and on the correct side.
Remember that nothing makes up for good schooling and training. You should never have to rely on artificial aids to make your pony go, and artificial aids should never be used in anger or out of frustration, or to punish.
Text: Mandy Schröder. Photography: Hilly Leader, pixinoo, pirita, Anastasija Popova
This article first appeared in the October 14 issue of HQPony magazine. For great subscription offers visitCoolmags!