All sorts of whips share many of the same names for their parts, but listed below are labelled pictures of a stockwhip, a bullwhip, a signal whip, and a snake whip. Scroll on down below the pictures for definitions and explanations of the terms used.
Thong - The thong of a whip is the entire flexible leather braided section of any whip. It should have an even taper, and should be firm (never squishy) to the touch.
Handle/Butt Knot - This is a decorative knob, usually finished with an attractive turkshead knot. Depending on the whip, this knob will be covering a leather or lead foundation to help properly distribute the weight of the whip. Most whipcrackers hold this knot in the palm of their hand when cracking.
Handle - On bullwhips and stockwhips, this section is not flexible like the thong. It provides the extra leverage on a whip that makes it easier to crack - so as you might assume, the longer the handle, the better your leverage for cracking, within reason. A signal or snake whip will have a flexible handle section, so the whipcracker must use his or her arm and wrist more to create extra leverage. Because of the flexible handle section on signal and snake whips, these whip are more compact, easier to use in confined areas, and are more portable.
Wrist Loop - An entirely optional part of any whip. Wrist loops are not meant to hold a large amount of weight, but will easily fit over your wrist for security if you'd like. The main purpose of a wrist loop is to hang the whip from if you want to store your whips that way or if you are cleaning or conditioning your whip.
Fall Hitch - This is the end of the thong, where the fall is attached. Keep a close eye on the braiding just above your fall hitch, because you will need to send it in for repair if these strands become loose. One or more loose strands in this section means that the energy of a cracking whip will falter in that area, you whip will not crack as well, and you have a better chance of breaking a strand there.
Fall - The fall is most often made from a thick and durable strip of beveled and rounded cowhide. Though not as easy as poppers, falls are fairly easily replacable by a non-professional. Give us a call, and we'll walk you through it. Or, if you're not comfortable with doing it yourself, you are welcome to send it to us for a quick replacement. Care for your fall by coating it with Pecards after every few practice sessions, or whenever you notice it is becoming excessively "fuzzy." A fall on a full-size whip needs replaced when it becomes shorter than approximately 18-22 inches.
Popper - This is an easily replaceable portion of your whip because it is that part that takes the most abuse. Contrary to popular belief, the popper is not necessary for a whip to crack. We just use poppers because if we didn't, the end of the fall would begin to fray instead of the popper, and poppers are much easier and cheaper to replace than falls.
Keeper - This is a whip part unique to stockwhips. The keeper is the "hinge" between the thong and the handle of a stockwhip. In addition to the longer handle, this is another feature that makes the stockwhip ideal for fast and fancy routines.
Ring/Transition Knot - On most modern bullwhips, this decorative turkshead knot serves no other real purpose beyond marking the point of transition between the handle and the thong, which is why is it most often called a transition knot. These transition knots have been an iconic part of the bullwhip since the early American days of wooden swivel-handled bullwhips.