Fiaker with a whip
Horses & animal welfare

Fiaker & the whip – What you need to know

April 15, 2022

Fiakers don't whip anyone - especially horses...

The past scandals from recent years of equestrian sport have not made it easy for us. Who doesn't remember how a German riding coach who told her athlete in the seven-match that she should just "hit the horse right". Again and again, we are also accused of "whiping/hitting" our Fiaker horses - which shows us that people don't have the right understanding why a whip is used in carriage riding and what the actual use of it is.

But as you know... With our horses, trust is already established during training. We can here quote the baroque equestrian instructor of King Ludwig XIV:

“There is no abandonment on a horse that obeys out of fear. There will always be something it fears more than the rider. But if it trusts its rider, it will ask him what to do if it fears. " - Antoine de Pluvinel (1555-1620)

It is important to not work against the will of the horse, we much more focus on positive and trusting cooperation between horses and us. Besides that, it's also important to understand that our horse-carriage horses don't have to go higher, faster and further - because a carriage ride is not about speed records. It's a lot more about being able to enjoy downtown Vienna at a comfortable pace and from a completely different perspective.

But what is the driving whip for?

If you look closely, the carriage drivers only use the whip very sparingly and tap the horses (with the string of the whip) lightly on the back or side of the horse to give the horses a variety of signals in order to finally create an even rhythm with both carriage horses.

To the point: So the whip acts as an extension of the arm. Which is extremely helpful when driving a Fiaker (horse-carriage), because the carriage driver does not sit on the back of the horse and therefore cannot communicate with the horse with his inner legs like when riding or by shifting the body weight.

So with the whip, you can communicate the following to the carriage horses:

  • Please change/change the pace (a little faster, as well as slower)
  • Come/go a little more to the left/right
  • Admonish and praise (! ) the horse

By the way, have you ever noticed that you never hear the whips of the Fiaker (as you might know from old Western movies)? That's because already Kaiser Joseph II., on the 1st In September 1773 declared to crack the whip as too risky as well as associated risky overtaking maneuvers in the city center of Vienna - back then, the carriage driver was threatened with even a year of jail.

Conclusion: The whip is not a martial torture instrument for horses in our country, as is unfortunately often presented. It is much more of an item designed to facilitate communication between humans and horses. This is how it should be and this is how it is generally practiced with the Viennese quality Fiakers.

IMPORTANT: We do not rule out the fact that there are, in any sense, "black sheeps" who still beat their animals. We deeply condemn this and also ask you to always report such observations to the Veterinary Office (MA60).


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