Basic Tools – Whips


The use of whips is very much neglected. We use the horn and holloas in the same way as the huntsman, so why not the whip? The whip is used to control the hounds if they are rioting after an animal they shouldn’t be, or to stop the hounds from going onto main roads, railways etc. The hounds will stop at the whip because they have been trained to be scared of it. So all the huntsman or whipper-in has to do is to crack the whip and the hounds will stop dead. If you see a huntsman crack the whip near a hound you will see it cower in fear. We can use this to our advantage by stopping hounds when they are in full cry.


The whip is an essential piece of sabbing hardware and is very easy to make.

For the handle all you need is a piece of dowelling from a hardware shop. This should be about 2/3 cm thick, and as short as possible so that it will fit easily into your pocket. The best rope to use is climbing rope (or similar). The rope for each whip should be about 1.5 metres long – the general rule is to hold out your arm and let the rope hang to the floor – that is the length you want.

Tape about 8 cm of the rope around the dowelling using strong tape. To fasten the rope to the dowelling, the best thing is a plastic clip (from electrical or gardening shops) which, once fastened, can’t be undone.

The cracking noise is made by adding a shoe lace, this only needs to be about 20 cm long. Tie this onto the end of the rope and put some tape around it. You will be able to make it more secure by practising with different ways. Put a knot near the end of the lace, this helps it to crack.

To crack the whip, lift the stick until the shoelace is just off the ground. Flick the stick upwards and then downwards very fast so that the stick follows down the line of the ascending rope. It may take a while but keep trying, you will be able to do it with practice.


The most obvious place to make use of the whip is when hounds are in cry. Stand on the line where the quarry has just gone. A few sabs should then start to crack their whips when the hounds come near. They must also “rate” them (tell them off) so that they think they are doing the wrong thing. A horn blower should stand at right angles to the line of the quarry. The horn blower should have holloaed first, then started to blow fast notes to encourage the hounds to come to them. In theory the hounds will come to the horn blower and the sabs with the whips should then move away from the line of the quarry so the huntsman doesn’t know where the quarry has gone.

A good time to use the whip is when the quarry has changed direction and the sabs run to where the quarry has gone to stop the hounds following the line. The horn blower should be encouraging the hounds to hunt on as shown.

The whip can also be employed when a quarry comes out of a covert. Sabs run in towards the covert and rate the hounds back with voice and horn calls:

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