Hunting whips and crops

Using a whip to open a gate

 

Hunting whips  - these whips have a hooked horn handle, a short shaft or stock and can have a long leather thong with a silk or cord lash. Without a thong it can be called a hunting crop. The different parts of the whip fulfill different functions:

 

 

 

Staghorn handle of hunting whip

The whip handle is used for opening gates. There is sometimes a "crown" screw on top of it to help when pushing a gate. For a series of splendid photos from Lady Apsley's 1932 book "For Whom the Goddess..." click  HERE

The handle of the whip or crop is usually staghorn, although ivory and silver are sometimes seen. Some modern hunting whips have buffalo horn or synthetic handles.
Some footpacks carry whips with a club-shaped handle.

The shaft or stock of the whip was traditionally made of cane, with time more whips were "Steel lined", which meant that they were more difficult to break. The stock could be left as varnished cane, smoked, to give a darker appearance, or it could be covered in plain or braided leather or braided linen, horsehair, catgut or whalebone. The covered stocks are easier to grip in wet weather. Many stocks are damaged through wear, or being trodden on by a shod horse. Antique hunt crop shafts are often much longer than modern ones - I assume this is related to the old-fashioned hunting seat - but I am open to correction.

Stitched keeper

At the end of the stock there is a leather flap - the keeper. If it is a simple loop of leather (often rawhide) it is known as an open keeper, a stitched keeper is made of two pieces of bridle leather sewn together with a slot for the thong to thread through (see image). Traditionally hunt servant's whips have open keepers.

The thong is used to prevent hounds coming too close to your horse's feet, it can also be wrapped around one's hand or wrist when opening gates so that the whip cannot be dropped. When the whip is "cracked" it is the end of the thong breaking the sound barrier that we hear. The braided thong ends in a loop through which the lash threads - this is often the part of the thong that breaks. The cord lash can vary in colour from hunt to hunt.

 

Polo or Jockey Whips I have included these whips on this page because they have staghorn handles like hunting whips. They are much longer, the idea is that one does not need to take one's hands off the reins to use the whip