06-03-2008, 12:21 PM
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I employ an "ask-tell-demand" system, and so far it has worked very well.
If you want your horse to do something (ANYthing) then you "ask" nicely first (i.e. If wanting them to move forward, ask with your voice and light pressure from your legs). If there is no response, I "tell" the horse, by getting more aggressive with my voice and squeeze or bump harder with my leg. If there is still no response, I get mean and nasty with my "demand" phase, where I will bump with a spur or give a tap with the whip.
With this scheme, the horse will learn that it's better to just do things at the "ask" phase rather than get demanded to do it. This ensures that the horse doesn't become dead to the whip or spur, and starts listening to your leg the first time.
Also, I honestly think that spurs are great tools, they make that "demand" phase all the more important - but shouldn't be used before that phase, give the horse a chance to react to your leg cue without using the spur.
Hope this helps!