A crop, sometimes called a riding crop or hunting crop, is a short type of whip without a lash, used in horseback riding, part of the family of tools known as horse whips.
Types and uses
A crop usually consists of a long shaft of fiberglass or cane or which is covered in leather, fabric, or similar material. The rod of a crop thickens at one end to form a handle, and terminates in a thin, flexible tress such as wound cord or a leather tongue. The thin end is intended to make contact with the horse. The handle may have a loop of leather to help secure the grip.
The length of a crop is designed to allow enough leverage for it to be accelerated rapidly with a controlled flick of the wrist without causing the rider balancing problems. Thus, a true crop is relatively short.
The term "whip" is a more common term that includes both riding crops as well as longer types of horse whips used for both riding and ground work. A whip is a little slower than a crop, mostly due to having slightly greater length and flexibility.
Crops are designed to back up the natural aids (leg, seat and voice) of a rider.
- Dressage whip is a true whip, longer than a crop, (up to 43 inches, including lash or popper) for horse training, allowing a rider to touch the mount's side while keeping both hands on the reins.
- Hunting whips are not for use on the horse, but have a "hook" at the end to use in opening and shutting gates without dismounting, as well as a long leather strip to keep the hounds from coming near the horse's legs, and possibly getting kicked.
While it is considered proof of bad horsemanship and abusive to whip a horse painfully, the crop's termination at a small leather loop indicates a design intended to be less painful than a device causing lashing, such as a cat o' nine tails. Even given this moderation, the crop is properly to be used very rarely.
The riding crop is still widely seen as the traditional symbol of dominance in BDSM activities. Its material is the only obvious link with the (stereotypical) leather fetish in that scene.