You are correct Mira, spurs are for refinement! They are also for the 'yes, you HAVE to' aid. Remember that every aid should not be given from the spur first--you always use the calf, and then the spur when the horse does not listen to a light touch. Spurs are like whips--you use them if you have to, but not all the time.
The AQHA has a few videos and articles about how spur stopping is incorrect (On the same page at 4-beating and low heads), and that they are trying to get it OUT of the western world. This is for one main reason--you need forward impulsion to engage the hind end, and it is very hard to pinpoint the impulsion of each hind leg when your horse has been taught to stop when you squeeze! Or even worse, go slower when you hold in your spurs. In order to collect your horse, the first thing you need is forward motion--and you can not achieve that whilst riding the brake.
I do understand the appeal of spur-training, however. You can get your horse to do a lot without ever touching the reins, which looks good in a class. However, you can achieve the same result with training your horse off of your seat--it just takes longer. My horse stops, backs, and rounds his back off of my seat, and my legs are used as they have been intended--to encourage forward motion and engagement of the hind end.
Good luck in whichever you choose. ;)
Dressage in Jeans
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