Hunting whips have been in use from as early as the 1900’s. They were generally sold as ‘ladies’ or ‘gents’ according to the size, weight and length of the whips. Since men are larger than women, the whips for men often had longer, thicker and had heavier handles. In general, whips are divided into two types. One type is a firm stick that is designed to strike directly to inflict pain and the other type is flexible, which is designed to swing in a particular manner to inflict fear of pain. The hunting whip is a combination of both featuring a firm stick and a flexible lash.
Hunting whips are not meant for horses even though a rider carries it along. It is used to remind the hounds to keep away from the hooves of the horses and also as a communication device for the hounds. The whip is similar to a crop except for the stock, which is stiff rather than flexible. The stock is generally made of cane, which is varnished to give it a darker appearance, or covered with leather, horsehair, linen or whalebone. The covering provides better grip during the rainy hunting season. The modern cane stocks come with a steel line to make them more difficult to break. The stock features a long silk or cord lash on one end and a hook on the other end. The hook end is used to open and close gates during hunting by the rider and the colour of the lash vary from hunt to hunt.
Thong is an important part of the whip, which helps the rider keep a firm hold on to it. It can be wrapped around the hand or the wrist to prevent it from dropping off. Thong also prevents the hounds from coming too close to the rider and the horse’s feet preventing any accidents. The thong can be hung across the riders’ arms when not in use.
The handles of the whips are usually made with stag horn, ivory or silver representing the rich lavish lifestyle of the aristocrats however the modern hunting whips are replacing this with buffalo horn or synthetic handles. The materials used to make whips are different today as earlier materials used to make whips are not practical anymore due to endangered animals and environmental issues. However, there are many hunting whips for sale on the Internet or antique shops for those antique collectors.