When the whip is new

Upon delivery your whip will be quite stiff. Don’t worry as this is normal. As you use your whip it will “break in” as we say, becoming more supple over time and adapt to your style of cracking. Think about it like getting a new pair of leather shoes. They too might be a bit stiff and uncomfortable in the beginning, but as you wear them they’ll loosen up and form perfectly to your foot. Refrain from trying to speed up the breaking in process by bending the whip back and forth and putting large amounts of leather dressing-/conditioner on it. Just use it like you normally would and give the whip some time.

 

whip damage
Cowhide bullwhip sent to me for repairs. Clear signs of use on abrasive surfaces.

While cracking

  • Only use your whip on grass or other smooth surfaces. Do not crack your whip on sand, gravel or pavement as this significantly damages your whip! Don’t practise wraps on trees as they too can damage the whip in a similar way due to their abrasive surface.
  • Don’t get your whip wet. Moisture can get in to your whip and cause mildew. If you want to crack whips on rainy days, getting a paracord (or other synthetic) whip to complement your whip collection might be a good idea!
  • If your whip is fitted with a leather fall give it a light coat of leather dressing-/conditioner after every other cracking session or so as this keeps the fall in good shape and prolongs the lifespan of the fall.
  • Don’t crack your whip without a cracker/popper.
  • Use protective eyewear and make sure that anything you don’t intend on hitting with your whip is well out of reach.

 

Storing your whip

  • Your whip has a “natural curve” meaning it coils easily in a specific direction. Pay attention to this and only coil your whip along this natural curve.
  • Store your whip lightly coiled, laying down, away from direct sunlight and pets! Dogs in particular might think whips are perfect chewing toys.
  • Don’t expose it to extreme temperatures for long periods of time. In other words, don’t leave it in a hot car or outside during the winter.

 

Fiebings Aussie Leather Conditioner
Fiebings Aussie Leather Conditioner

Maintaning the whip

Treat your whip with a light coat of leather conditioner 2-3 times a year (depending on your climate). I primarely use Fiebings Aussie Leather Conditioner but other brands like Pecards Leather Dressing or Obenauf’s Heavu Duty LP works just as well. You can find a jar of leather conditioner at your local Tandy/leather store, online or wherever one could by horse gear.

IMPORTANT: Do not use any oils (Neatsfoot oil for example) on your whip as these products are not suited for whips.