12 Different Types of Whips with Pictures

The whip is used to control animals or humans by exerting pain and fear. It is a simple stick or a chord/ flip tied to a handle.

Whips are made of different materials, with leather from horses, cows and goats being the most common material.

They may also be made from artificial materials such as Nylon and Spectra. A sharp sound known as a whip-crack is produced when a whip flogs a victim.

Uses of Whip

Whips are generally used to direct animals and provide guidance. This could be through discomfort and pain compliance or sound from the whip crack. Riding whips and crops have been used for the longest time in horse riding. If used well, they can be pretty helpful. They turn out to be torture tools if used for coercion and in anger.

types of whips

There is, without a doubt, the right and wrong way to use a whip in horse riding, training and cattle herding. A lazy horse is always motivated by a whip to pay attention to what you want. A few taps are enough to make it move forward. If you use the whip for more than tapping the horse, you’re probably overusing it, which could frighten the poor animal. It will become anxious and more hesitant to do what you want.

Bodies governing horse riding competitions have a set limit on the use of whips. Over-use or misuse of this aid comes with severe penalties such as disqualification and hefty fines. In some areas, it may be considered animal abuse.

Something interesting to note is that whips mostly get the animals to take action from the cracking sound. The loud, sharp sound encourages the animals to pull away, making it easy to drive oxen, sled dogs and livestock. It is an efficient way to control large droves of animals at the same time.

Whips are also a visual command to animals without inflicting pain. Human beings use it as an arm extension to command an animal to do something. The animal associates the tool with discomfort, irritation and pain and immediately takes action.

Different types of Whips

Whips come in different lengths, sizes, and shapes. They are classified based on how the braided portion (the thong or lash) is attached to the handle. The most common whips are the Bull whips, Snake whips, and stock whips. Below is a roundup of 12 types of whips.         

1. The Bull Whip

This is a typical American whip consisting of a wooden handle and a long whip. Some handles have a woven overlay that forms the part of the entire whip. Some may have a transitional knot that separates the handle from the whip. While it was initially a herding tool, it is currently used for sports cracking in Europe and the USA. They are long-lasting and easily portable.

2. Signal Whip

A signal whip is a single-tailed whip initially used to control dogs in races. They were typically short, measuring 3 to 4 feet. It has a flexible handle similar to the snake whip. A unique feature of this whip is that it lacks a fall and instead has a popper braided in at the thong. The handle, lash, and cracker are conjoined to form one thing. Signal whips are the shortest and most compact of all whips.

3. Snake Whip                                                          

Snake whips are similar to signal whips, except they have a fall attached at the end. This whip has a flexible length from the knot to the popper making it easy to fold and store in small spaces like bags and pockets. The lack of a handle makes it quite hard to use a long snake whip as it quickly loses focus. This whip is typically used as a self-defence item or for fun indoors.

4. Cow Whip

Originally from Florida, the cow whip features a wooden handle clearly distinct from the braided thong. It was initially made out of deer leather which later changed to Nylon to suit the moist environment of Florida. It has a small hollow space between the handle and the thong. At the thong are two Nylon or leather pieces wrapped at the handle to form a knot that puts together the handle and the thong. The whip has a twisted end, usually tapered to form frills.

5. Stock Whip               

First made in Australia, the stock whip has a long, sturdy handle and a detachable plaited lash. The lash can easily be separated from the cracker, fall and handle, making replacement easier. These whips are longer than bullwhips and offer better cracking. The long handle is usually between 18 to 24 inches. It protects the horse from the dangerous end of the whip when used by a rider. They were mainly used to herd cattle while on top of horses.

6. Performance Hybrid (PH)

A PH combines a stock whip and a bull whip into one. Its versatility and ease of use make it suitable for beginners. The handle is usually medium-length (14- 18 inches) and is commonly made of CPVC pipes. The thong is attached to the handle through a small tie. Performance hybrid whips are primarily made of nylon material. How long or short one is can be determined by the length of the thong.

7. Bullock Whip

The bullock whip was originally used in Australia to herd cattle. It features a very long lash attached to an extremely long stick. A user needs a lot of strength to produce the loudest crack. The thong is equally replaceable since it is attached to the handle using a keeper. The handle is approximately 5 feet long, requiring both hands to crack. This feature makes it less ideal for weak or lazy people.

8. Cat o’ Nine Tails       

This whip with multiple tails was primarily used in the United Kingdom Army and Royal Navy to give severe punishment. In some countries, it was used as part of judicial corporal punishment besides birching and canning. This whip has nine knotted chords thongs that give immeasurable pain when torn deep into the skin. Each small rope is plaited from three cotton strands, while big ropes are made out of yarned plaited smaller ropes. 

9. Sjambok

This massive whip, also known as litupa, is made out of leather skin from hippos and rhinos. It can also be made out of heavy plastic. The Sjambok is about 1.5 metres long and was significantly used during the Great Trek migration to drive oxen. Herders still use them to drive cattle. The South African police used them during the apartheid era to control the masses, especially in riots.

10. Qilinbian

Qilinbian is a Chinese word that means a unicorn whip. This metallic whip was used in China from the late 1900s in martial arts activities. It was paired with shorter weapons such as a mace, machete or dagger to wade off the opponents’ attention. While the whole whip was made of steel chain, the handle was wrapped in leather. It has a cracker and a fall and weighs about 1 to 2 kg.

11. Fire Whip

It is a special whip made of solid and heat-resistant fiber. It is usually socked in fuel then put in the fire. Its burning and cracking simultaneously produce massive fireballs. Flow artists and magic performers mainly use them to entertain their audience. They come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and weights.

12. Equestrian

This was a typical riding whip used by horse riders to control their horses when driving or riding. They have a simple handle and a semi-flexible thong with a lash or popper at the end. They are typically 48″ inches long, including the handle. Those used for ground training could be a little longer. Horse whips come in different types, with the most common ones being the dressage whips, crops, hunting whips and longe whips.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a short whip called?

A signal whip is the shortest and most concise whip. It has a loose, flexible handle permanently attached to the lash and cracker. They are all covered by a plaited fabric to form a uniform top layer. Signal whips were mainly used in sled dog racing.

What kind of whips were used on slaves?

The cat o’ nine tails were used to give severe corporal punishment to enslaved people. In the 18th century, slaves were publicly whipped to give them a lesson and set an example to their counterparts. This whip was woven into nine thongs, with each bearing a knot at the middle.

Is a whip a weapon?

Yes, a whip is categorized as a ‘flexible weapon.’ It is suitable for ranged attacks, whereby you use the tip of the lash to strike a target. You can also use it to disarm or trap an opponent. Whips come in various sizes and lengths, according to their use.

Do whips hurt humans?

When used hard on the human skin, the whip causes bruising and inflammation. Some people, however, use whips for flagellation to produce sadomasochistic pleasure. Whipping is a form of punishment that inflicts a lot of pain to the involved individuals.

Do cowboys use whips?

Cowboys often use bull whips and cow whips to control livestock in an open grazing field. These whips were typically braided lashes connected to longer handles. They can be easily carried around when driving livestock.

Does the horse feel the whip?

While whipping bruises the human skin, horses hardly experience the pain since they have resilient and tough skin. They can feel a whip landing on their skin at the first flogging. Depending on the force and frequency, repeated striking can cause tissue damage and trauma to the horse.

Can you use a whip for self defense?

Yes, you can use a whip for personal security and protection, especially when you encounter attackers or aggressive animals. A whip offers a reasonable striking distance and speed that you may need to protect yourself. You can perform rapid blows and strikes depending on the whip you use.


Whips are tools used to provide guidance or bring an animal to action using pain and fear. They are commonly used to ride horses and drive livestock. They have been popularly used by today’s movie heroes such as Zorro and Indiana Jones. Sportsmen and performers also use them to entertain crowds.

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