At least once a year at the traditional thanksgiving feast in Altenmarkt, these locals crack their whips. They're all members of a whip-cracking group.
The thanksgiving festival is the most important one to the whip-crackers, the custom is an integral part of it and always has been. The whip came to the area via the Silk Road and then it was used on mountain pastures as a means of communication.
Whip-crackers hurl the tip through the air at speeds close to 1000 kilometres per hour. It is one of the fastest motions a human being can produce by hand.
Whip-crackers explain that you pull the whip in one direction and then you flick it while turning and make a loop. When the whip is completely stretched out, the tip reaches supersonic speeds and that's why the whip cracks.
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Specially adept and trained to remain steadfast in the presence of the cracking of the whip, the harvest festival is the event of the year for the whip-crackers and horses alike.
The horses wear a special harness. Though the festivals are far and few in between, local whip-crackers say that once you learn the whip-cracking technique, you don't forget it.
The next time you can check out the cracking of the whips is on 6 January. Don't miss out.
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