Why we don’t use whips in Horse Agility

The Magic Feather

I am well known in the horse world as having an aversion to whips. I can see no place for them around any animal.

But what I do see is that when someone picks up a whip, their energy and their attitude changes. They are no longer quiet communicators setting up scenarios in which the horse has time to seek an answer. There is a feeling of hardness, of demanding, of threat.

I call whips,
“Dumbo’s Magic Feather.”

Dumbo, you may recall, was a really cute baby elephant who did not believe that he could fly. One day he was given a magic feather that, he was told, held the special magic he needed to fly. Believing in the magic of the feather Dumbo was able to take flight by flapping his fabulous ears.

But then, just when he needed it most, Dumbo lost the feather!

In a terrifying scene he found himself trapped at the edge of a cliff unable to fly away from the danger bearing down on him.
But his guide implored him,

“Fly Dumbo, for the magic is not in the feather. The magic is within yourself!”
And Dumbo flew!

I believe that the whip has become like a magic feather for many people, but the magic is not in the whip!

The magic is within yourself.

This article first appeared in Over, Under, Through – Obstacle Training for Horses by Vanessa Bee published by Trafalgar Press ISBN 978-1570767272