Vince Bruce, who died on September 24th this year, was one of the greatest whip and lariat artists of his generation. I saw him once performing at the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Before his show in the great arena he did a warm up act in the vendor area – basically a street show – with the audience standing in a circle around him. In his two whip routine, the cane in one of the bullwhips broke, completely changing the handling of the whip. he corrected automatically for this so successfully that I did not notice there was any problem till I went over to talk to him after the show and he showed me the broken whip. In his main act he entered the arena roman riding on his two horses (that is, standing with one foot on each horse) and did a circle while spinning a lariat in a huge flat loop around both horses.
My juggling friends may remember him from the International Jugglers’ Association Festival in 1996. He was a bit concerned about performing in the public show as he was not sure if jugglers would appreciate his act. In fact he brought the house down and got a standing ovation.
I’m sometimes asked what is a good whip for a kid to learn with. First of all, it’s really important that kids wear eye protection when learning how to crack a whip. Read the rest of the safety guidelines as well, and make sure they are supervised at when they start out or if there are other kids around.
There are several shorter whips that work well for kids. You want something that is not too expensive and decent quality but will take some abuse. Greg DeSaye sells a 3 foot nylon snake whip, Aussie Whip Maker has a three foot stock whip, and most whip makers will be happy to custom make a shorter whip for a young whippersnapper. If you have any whip suggestions for young people please leave a comment below.
I was cracking whips with a friend when two mounted police stopped to chat. We talked about sport whip cracking, but when I gave a demonstration crack one of the horses became nervous. I apologized, but the officer told me to go on, and afterwards rode the horse over to me so that I could pet it, and it could learn to stay calm around loud noises. Thanks to the SF police for taking an interest in our hobby.
Sorry for the crass commercialism, but it would be nice if the annual royalty check from my publisher were enough to buy a new whip instead of a new fall 🙂 If you found the information here useful there is a lot more in The New Bullwhip Book.
I hope you like the new design, which is a little less 1990s. Since I am now using WordPress, you have a chance to comment on every part of the blog. Please do, especially if you see something that you think is wrong or could be explained better. The original Bullwhip FAQ grew out of a group discussion on the rec.juggling newsgroup, and many years later it would be nice to see the discussion continued.