SWITCHING THE WHIP: SECOND STRIDE
5 THE LEFT MOVES
I now have a half-cross, with complete control of my horse in my right hand. My left hand, which has already taken the extra left rein out of the way, comes forward to take the whip from the right hand.
6 THERE IT GOES
Without losing control of the cross—or the grip on the reins with the right hand—I loosen the right hand just barely enough so that the left hand is now able to reach, down and pluck the whip free.
7 WHIP SECURE
By now I have the half-cross in my right hand and the whip firmly in my left hand and cocked for the first stroke. As you can see by these drawings, the complete switch came within just two full strides.
8 SWITCH COMPLETE
I am now ready to whip left-handed. The switch is difficult to explain for a number of reasons. One is that—for me, at least—the whole procedure is one continuous motion, and when I'm doing it I'm not conscious of exactly what I do. Another reason is that while I'm switching the whip I'm never as aware of the mechanics of actually switching it as I am of two other very vital things: maintaining control of the horse with the hand in which I hold the half-cross and looking straight ahead. I'll never allow myself, even for a split second, to look down at what my hands are doing. Most riders today are pretty good at switching the whip, although a few oldtimers who never learned it as kids haven't bothered to learn since. The difficulty in teaching it to kids is that their first reaction is to freeze on the right hand so they can't get the whip out. Often they're liable to lose everything—reins and all. With practice they should acquire a touch delicate enough to control the reins and still permit the whip to slip instantly free.
HEADING FOR HOME
Having completed the switching of the whip from the right to the left hand—a move that became immediately necessary once I found myself able to move inside the 4-horse and 8-horse at the quarter pole—I am now in good position for the drive home. I have whipping room on my inside and, if I can draw away from the 4-horse, I'll be free to whip with either hand or, better yet, ready for a hand-ride finish.