“Stacy, can you explain the differences between a lunge whip or stick & string (carrot stick)? Which do you recommend for starting horses? Do you have preferences for different lunging aids for different circumstances? Thanks.”-GillianWhat is the differences between a lunge whip and a carrot stick or stick & string?

I use both a lunge whip and a stick & string for different reasons as each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Lunge whips are nice because they are light weight, inexpensive and long. Sometimes the length is nice when lunging a horse because I can reach further than I can with the stick and string. The disadvantage is that I cannot easily toss the string over the horses back while the horse is lunging, which is something I do to keep the horse from getting reactive to the string while in motion.

I also use a lunge whip as a tool to sack a horse out by tying a plastic bag to the end or to the point where the stiff part meets the flexible part. I like it for this because it is longer than the stick and string and because the shaft is flexible. The flexibility is good if I am rubbing between the horses legs and the horse decides to move because the shaft will bend. Two things I dislike about the lunge whip are that they often wear out quickly, with fiberglass sticking out of the end becoming a hazard, and the string is very lightweight and flimsy.

I prefer the stick & string (aka carrot stick) for several other reasons. The shaft is solid on the stick & string and the rope is  more dense and has some weight. There are some cheap brands out there now that have very lightweight rope which will change how they perform, buy the one with the heavier string. The heavy weight rope combined with the stiff shaft makes it possible to control the accuracy when using the tool. If the handler chooses to gently toss the rope over the horses back, neck or around the legs the rope will easily do this. I can also toss the string over the horses back, neck or rump while the horse is in motion. If you try this with a lunge whip the light weight string is easily blown and difficult to aim. The lightweight strings also tie themselves in knots…which means they are more likely to knot or bind up if tossed around a leg. To see an example of the string being tossed over the horse see Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 15.

The heavier rope makes it more accurate to control and it can quickly shift gears from making a loud noise to being tossed gently over the horses body. To see an example of this watch Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 20.

The stick & string is also better for tapping a horses legs or body because it doesn’t sting like a whip. This allows me to tap with rhythm and if necessary with increasing pressure without the tool becoming suddenly strong. This ‘dullness’ allows me more ‘range’ in the tapping where whips tend to move from tapping to stinging. I use this tapping when teaching the horse to back up, move the shoulders and move the hips.

In Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac-Episode 8 you will find examples of me using the stick & string for both tapping and rubbing. I like to rub my horses with the tool, scratching them with it like I would do with my fingers. The stick and string is better for this because the  lunge whip is too flexible. Rubbing with the tool is a great way to keep the horse from becoming overly reactive to it.

If I had to choose only one of these tools I would choose the stick & string for the reasons listed above and because they last much longer. Thankfully I don’t have to choose so I keep both around.

Here is a short video showing many of the wa