Types of Whips


Whips have fascinated people for thousands of years. Over the years they have been used for many different tasks. There are many types of whips, and they were all designed for different purposes. The history and function of whips are actually quite interesting. Without whips it is likely that the world as we know it today would be quite different.

The Facts

  • Whips are a type of instrument used for many different tasks. They have been used for things such as animal training, noise makers, criminal punishment, battle weapon and a prop for tricks and other performance activities. Whips are usually made from a type of leather sewed together to create a sturdy shape. There are several kinds of whips.


  • Whips have been in use for thousands of years to train animals and complete other tasks. Ancient Greeks and Romans used whips to punish criminals, as well as to guide herds of animals from place to place. The first whips were little more than strips of leather tied together. Knots were often tied into the whips to create a more painful experience. After the Renaissance whips fell from favorable use, except for the short riding whips that were used to direct horses. When cattle herding became a national event in the early 1800s, whips became popular again. The long bullwhip was introduced as a way to help move a herd of cattle.


  • There are many functions for whips. The main function is for the training and directing of animals. Whips are not usually used in direct contact with the animals anymore, but rather the sound is used to direct the animal from one place to another. There are also whip shows and contests that whip enthusiasts participate in to show off their whip handling skills. Small show whips are still used in equestrian settings.


  • There are several types of whips. Bullwhips are perhaps the most famous, immortalized by popular figures such as Indianan Jones. They have short handles and one long flexible tail. Snake whips are whips that are almost completely flexible, handle and all. They were used to guide cattle while on foot, but are rarely used today. Signal whips are short whips that are used to signal animals for specific tasks such as dog sledding. They are used for the sound alone. The stock whip is a very long whip with a very long handle. They were used to train animals from horseback. Yard whips are a shorter version of the stock whip. Cattle whips were used to direct cattle from place to place. They are usually made of braided nylon.


  • Whips come in a large variety of sizes. Typically the smallest whip is no shorter than three feet including the handle. The longest whips can be upwards of 10 feet in length. Most whips have a circumference of at least half an inch to over three inches. Typically the whips are larger near the handle and smallest at the very tip. Some whips are made of leather strips, which give them a smaller circumference.


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