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This is a discussion on Spurs within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category
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    04-27-2009, 08:38 PM

Just wanted to share my experience...

I have long avoided riding in spurs. I would NEVER use them to get forward in a horse. I strongly believe in better training instead of spurs, whips, etc. However, I have started showing my ASH, Bundy. For a working ASH class, I need to do stops, rollbacks, haunch turns, as well as cracking a whip, etc. He has come a loooong way from when I got him, and has been placing consistent 2nds in our recent working classes. I made the decision to try him (and me!) in spurs, to sharpen him upp off my leg cues. In other words to sharpen up his response and response time to my cues for things like rollbaks and haunch turns, and to fine tune my aids, as he can sometimes be a bit sluggish.

So, I bought spurs. Similar to this:

(I'm a firm believer that rowel spurs (smooth ones) are milder than dummy spurs)

I do know that bunday had been flogged with spurs in the past, so I was very wary and gentle.

The first time I rode him with them, I only had a short ten/twenty minute ride. All I did was put him through walk/trot/canter on both reins, a few stops, and a little bit of side pass at a walk to get him used to moving off the spur.

To begin with he was putting his ears back and throwing his head when I used the spur. (I was only using it very slightly to cue transitions. Otherwise I was using my calf to apply leg pressure as usual) I figured he was anticipating a jab as he has received in the past. He eventually realxed a fair bit as he realised I wasn't going to beat him. He did keep jumping into a canter at the slightest leg pressure, but I believe that was part of him adjusting.

Anyway, in a couple of days, I was riding him for a full day doing cattle work. I used the spurs. He continued to relax more and felt less tense. I was also practising finding the exact point where the spur met his belly and fine tuning. I admit I did accidentally spur him once, I asked for a stop and he stopped far more abruptly than I was ready for! My leg tipped back and I did spur him, lightly though. Only time that happened.

Anyway, the point of this post. It really helped with his rollbcaks/haunch turns when working the mob. And the absolute highpoint: On my way back from the yards to where he is kept (20 min ride) I asked him to collect and perform like he would at a show. And WOW. He lifted his back, engaged his hind, and absolutely powered up the hill in this amazing forwad, bouncy, round trot. (we took a long time to get the concept of forward in a trot) I asked for a canter, and again, wow. Lovely steady, collected, bouncy round canter with a lovely lifted belly/back and engaged hind. It was amazing to ride...

Just wanted to share my GOOD experience with spurs!
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    04-27-2009, 08:46 PM
That's good that you had such a good experience with them. I use spurs on all of my broke horses just as fine-tuning and "wake up" aids. I stick with my calves for cues unless they are being sluggish, then I use the spurs. The only time that I have really stuck one is when I was working cattle and I needed him to move left NOW!! And he was just moving slow and watching the cow run by. Then next time I needed him to move, I stuck him with it just enough to startle him and wake him up and I had no further problems all day. I completely avoid using spurs on young horses though.

Also, those are almost exactly what I use.
    04-27-2009, 08:53 PM
I usually ride with spurs - except for Bobo. I'm very easy with them and consider them an aid not a means of punishment.

When I first got Bobo, we were out in the field and got to a spot that he didn't care about. I used a lot of leg but he was not going to go forward. I touched him with the spur and he let out a single buck that nearly threw me out of the saddle. It was as if to say "don't ever do that again". I dismounted, took the spurs off, and he never offered to buck again ..... some horses are just that way.
    04-27-2009, 08:57 PM
I was actually very wary as I though Bundy may react that way, Iride! I have talked to the guy who flogged gim and he made comments such as "he sure has a buck in him with a spur on him" etc... That's why I was so apprehensive for a long time. I'm just glad he finally has some positive experience with them :]
    04-28-2009, 08:25 PM
I now use spurs on my lazy passive Danny. He is much more responsive with them. I didn't take them off one day when riding Misty. I couldn't believe the difference. She is a good girl anyways, but she tends to go backwards when she wants to go home. That was the first time I had to use them. She popped her head up and went forward- not backing!!
    04-28-2009, 08:52 PM
I used to avoid spurs like the plague... mostly because I'd heard one person's interpretation of how spurs were meant to be used. Something along the lines of, spurs are supposed to cut into the horse and make a sort of blood blister, and then everytime the spur touches it, that's what makes the horse move off them. At the time, I didn't know any better, and so I believed that and vowed to never use spurs.
Then 2-Pak's trainer started me on them, to give him a bit of a wake up call, and I learned the 'proper' use of spurs. I still don't like to use them if I don't have to... 2-Pak is mostly weaned off of them and I've started using them on Ruby once in awhile, when she is getting fresh. I can't think of if I've ever acidentally jabbed either one of them, but I did leave a huuge scratch in the fender of 2-Pak's saddle when he decided to be a jumper for the day and I went over his head. XD
    04-28-2009, 09:16 PM
Ugh, that's a horrible though Bandit!

I do know far too many people who misuse spurs, and it put me off them for a long time. I only tried them as a way to get the turns that I needed.

The guy who I know got on my horse and flogged him has also made his horses bleed numerous times with the spur. To me that's abuse.
    04-28-2009, 11:49 PM
Yep, I have seen many horses come with those ugly scars all over thier sides from what we call "rock grinders". Those are the one's with the great big sharp pointed rowels that a lot of "cowboys" wear. For some reason, they think you have to poke the horse all the way through to the spine to get the reaction you want. There are lots of cutting horse trainers around here too that do the same thing. :(
    04-29-2009, 12:55 AM
Bleh, poor horses. The overuse of spurs whips and harsh bits is probably my biggest gripe with the horse world...

My pet peeve is when you see a kid on a little pony outfitted in spurs, whip, and holy-crap-how-does-that-fit-in-its-mouth-pelham. Decide, do you want go, or stop? You can't have both at the same time!

Lol, sorry.

I guess the point of my story is that I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of my little experiment. I won't be riding Bundy in spurs all the time, probably more for a while so he and I get used to them, then only for shows and cattle work/campdrafting.

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