A quality whip if properly used and well maintained should last generations. Stockmen pass down their whips from generation to generation.
The first thing you should do as a whip owner and maintain your whip is develop good habits.
1st Habit: Be careful where you crack the whip. The ideal conditions for cracking a whip is on a clean, dry, nonabrasive surface such as dry grass, carpet, on a tarp, a polished floor or any other nonabrasive surface. Cracking a whip on a abrasive surface like a paved road, concrete, gravel, dirt, or on any other sharp surface will put excessive wear on the fall and the first foot or so of the whip which can shorten the life of your whip. Dirt can also work its way into the core of the whip and cause wear from the inside out.
2nd Habit: Avoid using excessive force when cracking to achieve the loudest crack possible. Focus on precise timing and getting sharp cracks when cracking a whip rather than using muscle power. When you muscle a whip, it puts a lot of stress on the keeper of a stock whip and can create a lot of failures on that part of the whip. On bullwhips, the transition where the handle meets the thong. With signal and snake whips or any whip without a handle it puts stress on the part of the thong where your hand meets the thong and will cause it to bend severely near the butt of the whip. Also, when you crack a whip aggressively it puts a lot of stress on the last inch of plaiting just behind the fall hitch on a whip. Which can loosen strands and create gaps in the plaiting which dirt can get into and weaken the strands and risk snapping a strand and shortening your whip.
3rd Habit: Keeping your whip well-conditioned. A good leather dressing is very important for a whip and the life of it for several reasons.
Keeps a whip supple and flexible over its length of its life.
It excludes oxygen and air from coming into contact with the whip and causing dry rot and oxidization of the leather. Which is the main long term challenge one will face keeping a whip supple and in the same condition as when it was made.
A good leather dressing for a whip should be a thick waxy leather dressing that will take a long time to evaporate from a whip. You should avoid leather conditioners that are liquid at room temperature. A Liquid evaporates quickly from the thong of the whip and can leave behind corrosive sediment that can harm a whip over long periods of time. Also, some oil based conditioners that claim to soften leather can harm the leather by breaking down the fibers of the leather which softens the leather but also shortens it life.
Every time you use a whip you lose dressing off the working parts of the whip which is the 1-2 foot of the tip of the whip above the fall hitch and the fall. These are the parts that loose the most dressing every time you practice. If you only put dressing on those parts of the whip it can change the balance of the whip overtime. The best practice is to put a small amount on more frequently.
Just put a small amount (just enough to go all the way down the thong) of leather dressing on your hand and work from the thickest part of the thong of the whip down to the point of the whip and fall. Just work it into the whip by rubbing the wax off onto the leather like you would on a clean rag as if you were cleaning off your hands.
Whip Care and Maintenance
Breaking in your New Whip
DO-NOT: With a New Whip DO NOT try and drown the whip in dressing to try and give it a head start in loosing up. New whips WILL be stiff that’s a good thing if a new whip is not stiff most likely it was not made well. Avoid over dressing and over flexing your new whip you will regret it in time.
DO: To break in your new whip just use it normally. Be PATENT let the whip break in naturally over time.