There are not many people who understand the TRUE purpose of spurs - It shows in this thread.
Spurs are NOT for forward.
No horse should respond ONLY to spurs.
Every horse ridden in spurs should be able to do everything without them also.
It's really very simple. Spurs are for refinement
There is NO way you can give a cue as precise with your bare heel vs. a spur, simply because of the size. Your heel is large and blunt, but a spur is small and precise.
Spurs also encourage lifting of the ribcage much clearer than your heel. You can give an 'upward' cue with a rowel spur which you can't emulate with your bare heel.
if I were a top competitor and trainer, I would probably use them more for fine tuning, but I'm not, nor will I likely ever be, so I will just enjoy horses that are taught to respond to voice (for gaits) and light application of the leg for other movements.
That's the key - If you are happy with your horse where it is, then great! Stick with it and don't use spurs.
However myself, and most who compete, are after as close to perfection as they can get. I want my horse as light and responsive as I can manage, and I want to cue with the smallest aid possible. Spurs allow me to chase that goal with more success.
My competition horse is ridden without spurs 80% of the time. I only put spurs on when I am training or showing.
My breaker? She has never felt spurs and won't until she has everything down pat without them - Then I will progress to lightening it up even more with spurs.
I CAN do everything I need to do with spurs. I CAN'T do it as subtle, as refined, as sharp as I can with spurs, and THAT is the reason I use them.
I never kick with spurs. Most of the time they never touch my horses sides.