Hunter Ring Etiquette, Should I Use My Crop In The Show Ring?

The short answer is no, you shouldn’t use your crop in the show ring.

Top: Dressage whip, bottom: Hunt crop

Top: Dressage whip, bottom: Riding Crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crops are allowed and the rules state crops are permitted and there is a length restriction. The maximum length is 75cm when going over fences and 110 cm when schooling on the flat. You are not permitted to ride with a dressage whip if you are schooling over fences.


According to FEI (Federation Equestrian International) Rule 241 –

“using a whip which is more than 75 cm in length … … on the show grounds or in the immediate vicinity of the show grounds” is cause for elimination.

Tesco Winchester stocks riding crops, jodphurs...

Tesco Winchester stocks riding crops, jodphurs and a Tesco riding helmet. (Photo credit: Martin Tod)

The rule also states, ” no substitute for a whip may be carried“. This means if you pick up a stick, branch or umbrella to use as a make shift riding crop, it may be cause for elimination.

Three Strikes and You Are Out

Excessive use of the whip or riding crop is taken seriously by show managers, officials and horse owners. If you are using your whip excessively you are under the penalty of disqualification.

According to the rules (FEI Article 243)

‘A horse should never be hit more than three times in a row’

In addition hitting the horse after you have been eliminated or after the horse has jumped the last jump is not permitted. This constitutes hitting the horse in anger and is unsportsmanlike.

Excessive use of the whip in these instances is considered cruel and can be penalized by:

  • warning card
  • elimination
  • fine
  • disqualification

Have you ever witnessed any of these at a horse show? what would you do if you saw someone abusing a horse?


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About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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