There are different ways in which bullwhips can be used. Bullwhips could be used to create a pain stimulus or otherwise. Bullwhips may also be used to gently convey a message or to make loud sounds. Although there are different ways in which bullwhips can be used, special care should be taken to ensure proper use because bullwhips can cause severe damage including cuts and broken bones. Bullwhips can also damage items and equipment.
In many situations, bullwhips are used to control animals such as livestock. This is because bullwhip users can acquire compliance through the infliction of pain as a result of the impact of the whipping effect of the whip. The impact or sound of the whip helps to move animals from one place to another. The pain acts as a stimulus and can be used in training horses and other animals. The use of a bullwhip in training animals is permitted in some areas. In such circumstances, regulatory bodies are in place to ensure that there is no abuse with the bullwhip. Nevertheless, there are areas where animal rights groups protest the use of such methods. Still, bullwhips remain a popular choice for controlling animals in equestrian disciplines and also in controlling livestock.
There are also instances when no pain occurs when the bullwhip is used. In these circumstances, the bullwhip is used as a sign or visual communication medium to convey a message. Skilled bullwhip users may use the bullwhip to simply tap an object or an animal to indicate a directive or required action. Based on how the bullwhip is used and the pattern through which conditioning has occurred, the bullwhip can provide reinforcement, correction, negative feedback or awareness.
Bullwhips can break the sound barrier when the tip of the whip moves at very high speeds. The resulting sound resembles a cracking sound and is described as a mini sonic boom. In order to create the sonic boom sound, the bullwhip needs to be of the long variety as this will assist the tail gather enough momentum to create the force needed to flow through the tail-end of the whip. Apart from the sonic boom sound, bullwhips may also be used to strike other objects to create equally loud sounds. These loud sounds can be used to exert control over animals due to fear of loud noises. Hence, the sound of the whip is an effective control mechanism.