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Woman in riding breeches, holding a crop

A crop is a short whip, commonly used in horseback riding, normally having a flexible loop or paddle end to cause a sting without any injury.

Crops are made from a variety of materials - now usually in combination - including wood (such as rattan), leather, rubber and plastic.

a 30" (75cm) riding crop

A crop, sometimes called a riding crop or hunting crop, is a rather short type of Whip without a crack, used in horseback riding, hence also known as a horsewhip.

Types and uses

A riding crop usually consists of a long rod 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.

Crops are designed to back up the natural aids (leg, seat and voice) of a rider.

  • the dressage whip is a longer variant (about 3 feet) for horse training, allowing to touch the mount's side while riding it with the 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 (Britain actually had laws against animal abuse sooner than against child abuse), the crop was used thus to lash human victims, such as grooms, other servants and children (possibly as an agonizing spanking), and even judicially, as a severe form of physical punishment, known as horsewhipping and more likely to leave bloody stripes than a (broader) strap. Such was still in use into the 20th century alongside the cat o' nine tails in Delaware (county) prisons, applied to the bare back at whipping posts nick-named Red Hannah.
  • The riding crop is still widely seen as the traditional symbol of dominance in BDSM activities, for actual use (rather symbolical or really lashing) or at least threatening. It is a logical choice because it is not only painful but also has the humiliating connotation of reducing the 'slave' to an animal. Its material is the only obvious link with the common leather fetish in that scene.

See Also

Sources and references

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