Ok, yesterday, after reading the article that Lane posted from Wikipedia on the spur stop, I decided to do a little touching up on it. As you read from Lane's post, the writer of that article seemed to believe that it was universal for all spur stopping horses to have incompetent riders who bring about the extreme cases of lameness and nerve damage. I added a sentence in the defense of spur stopping, claiming any technique, when used irresponsibly, can lead to problems, such as hard mouths in horses who are subjected to excessive bit pressure. I also revised the mental problem paragraph so that "completely retrained" became "partially retrained."
There were other revisions that I did to the Wiki on Western Pleasure, specifically I changed the assertion that all horses must have their poll level with their withers (as they do in the USEF rulebook) to the AQHA standard of a "level topline" which most pleasure riders find to be more reasonable than the USEF headset. Nothing
I wrote was extreme in any way, and all of my expressed opinions were reasonable. I also went to great care in order to maintain the preious editors opinions, while toning them down a bit to reflect a less extreme view of the sport which I felt would be more appropriate for readers.
Well, ****, I guess I went and offended someone... The following excerpt came from the same exact place where Lane's quote previously was. Check it out: "Just as the sport was cleaning up the "peanut roller" controversy, a new controversy began regarding the "spur stop." A current fad, seen in nearly all breeds, requires a horse to perform with an extremely loose, draped rein at all times. Western pleasure horses have always traveled on a fairly loose rein, but in recent years a visible "drape" in the rein has become exaggerated. However, it requires time, good riding ability, and careful training to correctly teach a horse "self carriage," particularly to slow or stop with weight (and sometimes voice) alone without tightening the reins.
Hence, some trainers, particularly if pressed to train horses quickly, train some western pleasure horses to slow down and stop when spur pressure is applied. Sometimes referred to as "riding the brake," this trend is officially frowned upon by the major western pleasure sanctioning organizations since at least 2003.
The precise cues given a horse are not necessarily a problem in themselves, but the spur stop has several problems and its use is even considered a form of animal abuse in some circles. The first problem is that a rider who uses the spur stop command can "capture" the horse, or in other words, use too much pressure, which most often results in the horse sucking back in the midsection to escape the pressure. This body tension causes a horse's gait to become very jerky and unnatural. If used in this incorrect manner for a long period of time, the spur stop can lead to pinched nerves, spine and joint pain, and lameness.
In defense of the spur stop, its advocates claim that a spur stop is not inherently abusive if properly executed and in that respect is no different from the traditional method of stopping using a combination of light bit pressure and collection with the legs. They argue that classic method does not cause problems when used responsibly, but also can be abused. They point out that horses that are said to have "hard mouths" are a result of irresponsible and excessive bit use.
However, the most significant problem with the spur stop is mental: spur or leg pressure is a near-universal cue in virtually every other equestrianism discipline to ask the horse to go forward. A horse that stops when leg pressure is applied is not useful for almost any other type of riding. Therefore, if the horse is later used for some other purpose, it has to be retrained. But, because horses have long memories and have a difficult time forgetting lessons once learned, retraining can be a time-consuming procedure. With the reality that the horse show career of most animals lasts relatively few years (at least at national level intensity), plus any number of animals initially trained for this discipline may not excel at it and require a switch to something else, most western pleasure horses, particularly those of average ability, can reasonably be anticipated to go on and do different work at a later point in its life. Aside from time and cost of retraining, critics of the spur stop also point out that if a horse is not able to be retrained for a different use or is sold to a new owner who considers its behavior to be balking or other disobedience, it may be deemed a useless animal that could ultimately be sold for horsemeat.
Ok, I don't know whether you took the time to read that, but let me sum it up for you with a simple equation... Western pleasure = awful trainers = spur stopping = animal cruelty = an inevitable need to retrain the animal = HORSE SLAUGHTER
I guess I better stop using my spurs, otherwise my horse is going to end up in the slaughter house... :roll:
I'm not going to waste any more time fixing this article, but I think it's a shame that some people have these opinions and are willing to slander a perfectly respectable riding discipline in order to express them. Even if I felt the same way as this editor does, I would at least have the respect not to post my opinions on a website visited by millions where many readers take what is written to be factual.
The only attempt I made today was to make a further distinction between the USEF and AQHA designated headsets. Otherwise, if you want to read (and maybe edit please) the Wiki on Western Pleasure you can go here.
As for me, I may just include a small disclaimer before the article, but we'll see how long that lasts.