(“. . . and they wonder why their horse is dull. “)
Larger than a pet peeve (but smaller than a gut-wrenching display that makes my head explode), is that behavior when a student unconsciously taps her horse with the whip and gets absolutely no reaction.
Generally speaking I am in favor of riders carrying a whip. They should be comfortable with it in either hand, and they should be able to switch it correctly without distracting themselves or their horse. Horses should be used to its presence and not be nervous or excited if the rider is carrying it. Remember the old saying: “It’s easier to have it in your hand until you need it than to stop and go searching for it after the fact.” And while it is a useful tool, every now and then you should ride without a whip to be sure you have not become overly dependent on it.
With all that as preliminary, when you use the whip, it should mean something. Very occasionally you might have to use it sharply, but you want your horse to be keen and attentive enough that if the whip brushes his coat, there should be a reaction.
That’s not a believable outcome if you continually desensitize him by a random tickling and tapping that produces no result. Much of the time riders do it as a mannerism, scarcely aware that it has happened… Pick up the reins, “flick flick tap bump” gratuitously and with no meaning, and then they wonder why their horse is dull.
Shock collars for riders? Not a bad idea…