The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

23.12.2022 The Iconic Sound of the Whip???

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At my son’s school Christmas concert, the older kids in the orchestra were playing ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Leroy Anderson. I have to say, they played beautifully! At the start, the conductor announced the piece, adding “Listen out for the iconic sound of the whip.”

The iconic sound of the whip… that phrase really got me thinking. I looked up ‘iconic’. It means “regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration”. I had to look up ‘veneration’ as well, just to be certain I was correct in my thinking. ‘Veneration’ means “great respect; reverence”.

I know this was just kind of a throwaway phrase, and I shouldn’t attach too much significance to it. But it really hit me, that the sound of the whip is indeed linked with working horses throughout history. Has the sound of something which was traditionally used to cause significant pain become ‘regarded as a representative symbol’, or, even worse, worthy of great respect and reverence? I think possibly that it has.

Which means we need to change this, moving forwards. I don’t believe that we should try to change history. It happened, and we must learn from it. We must learn from the way that we have treated animals, others, and even ourselves, in the past. We must make it so that in the future, when others look back, the ‘iconic’ treatment of horses involves understanding their needs, and responding appropriately.

What can you do today towards achieving this? What can the horse world do to make a difference?

Keep an eye out for my next book, “Harmonious Horsemanship: How to use the Ridden Horse Ethogram to Optimise Potential, Partnership, and Performance”. This ground-breaking book is co-authored with Dr Sue Dyson, and will be available summer 2023. Sign up at to be kept up to date with new information as it comes available.

Watch a FREE 30-minute documentary on the Ridden Horse Ethogram here.

Here’s a FREE 30-minute presentation by Sue Palmer on how to be confident that your horse is comfortable.

Other books by Sue Palmer M.Sc. MCSP:

‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’

‘Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?’

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2022