w181 Zair sidesaddle whip
w232 1906 handled whip
A sidesaddle whip or cane is carried in the right hand and is used to give the aids that the right leg gives when riding astride.
Many 19th Century whips are very decorative - they were the fashion accessories and status symbols of their day.
They were usually constructed from a whalebone or baleen core which was wrapped first in a layer of paper, and then covered with braided whalebone, linen, horsehair or catgut.
The grip is sometimes covered in leather and sometimes carved from ivory or horn. The collars and tops of these whips are often silver or gilded, and sometimes set with small gems or cast figures.
The tip of the whip was usually finished with a short plaited rawhide and silk lash.
Antique whips are often much lighter and more flexible then modern dressage whips, it is not clear whether Victorian horses were much more sensitive than ours, or, far more likely, these whips were just carried for display.
Gents Whips - Fashionable men also rode out socially, and there are decorated "Park" and "Cutting" whips around as well as regimental whips, made from similar materials to the sidesaddle whips. This is probably a good place to mention "bulls pizzle" whips. It is often said that antique whips were made from dried bulls genitals - and some were ....I have been told that they were sometimes given as engagement presents, but it is rather hard to believe that a genteel Victorian lady would carry one ... I think they were made in small numbers, as a curiosity, although in some cultures they are more usual.
Whips are also seen made of steamed and stretched horn, and treated wood & cane. I have included a few whips from other equestrian traditions in this section, including the Gaucho rebenque, the Central Asian Nagaika and fly whisks.