Sunday, 3 January 2010

Whips. The excuses for carrying a weapon.

Yes, I know, it's an extension of your arm. So is a sword, dagger, club, spear, sling, bow and arrow, handgonne, kalashnikov, ICBM. And do you know what defines a weapon? An extension of your arm. The phrase armed and dangerous might ring a bell somewhere.

A whip is an extension of your arm which is why it can be defined as and used as a weapon. Of course a feather duster is also an extension of your arm, it helps you reach those inaccessible places, but you don't see many riders carrying feather dusters. That is because they prefer to carry a weapon, rather than a genuine extension of your arm.

In these straightened times, commercial sponsorship may be the only hope for the army and we will see the 13th/18th Fairy Liquid Lancers parading with feather dusters, mops and dishcloths, and my analogy will be stuffed, but until those happy days arrive, ("Terribly sorry prime Minister but we can't just invade Iraq, think what it would do to our corporate image in the Middle East!" Maybe its not such a bad idea afetr all.) we will just have to live with the fact that armies are armed with weapons, and so are horsemen.

Carriage drivers call themselves whips, knights win their spurs, you curb their enthusiasm, kick them into action, rein them back, the language of brutality to horses infects the english language and the english psyche. And whips hurt. Having had the benefit of a really good education, I did at least learn that bamboo canes are bloody painful. Oddly enough the one boy for whom the experience was literally bloody, a couple of strokes and the blood soaked through his pyjamas, didn't mind being beaten because, 1 he only got a couple of strokes before the master lost his nerve, and 2, he had a high pain threshold.
I have just noticed another linguistic oddity, I refer to "strokes with a cane" yet I know that stroking is something different.

Back to whips. Until 18 hundred and something only one man made creation had exceeded the speed of sound, the whip lash. The power of a weapon is a simple multiple of its speed times it's weight. The tip of a lash may not weigh much but it is travelling twice as fast as the legal maximum velocity for a .177 airgun pellet. And it's just an extension of your arm.

Look at shepherds, they control their dogs they other side of the Fell with a whistle. That's because a 3/4 mile extension of the arm just wouldn't fit into the average shepherds cottage. And they seem to cope.

I am not, oddly enough campaigning to ban whips. Partly because bans don't work. You only have to look at foxhunting to see we have preserved all the most ostentatious snobbery and elitism, and got rid of the only true skills, those of the huntsman hunting hounds after a highly intelligent quarry. So I am not interested in banning whips, I just want them to be optional.

You can't take a horse related exam in England without a whip in your hand. The British Driving Society would like to make a whip compulsory for driving horses on the road, and the Pony Club test ten year old children to see they are comfortable holding a whip in either hand.
Ask yourself one question: what has the horse or pony done to deserve this unique status? Take a whip to any other animal in public and see what happens.

Take a whip to Obama and he will kick you and I will give him a carrot as a reward before reporting you to the police. Obama is terrified of whips. 11 hands, 6 years old when I got him and terrified of whips. Why?

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