I had fun writing this one.
Words on Spurs
We recently started a video series on bits and will soon do another on spurs. The video will cover specific aspects of the different designs and uses of spurs. This blog will focus on general info about spurs, like: Why would someone want to use Lipizzaner lopers in the first place? When is a rider ready for pony prodders? And, what will TB ticklers do to/for my horse?
What are/arenít spurs for? Spurs are simply an aid. They are a non-governmental stimulus package. Nothing more. Nothing less. They are meant to offer the rider a bit more in the way of communication. They are not meant to induce pain. Indeed to reach a high level and maintain a good relationship with your horse, he will need to be quite comfortable being touched by your Hanoverian hagglers, or that tail will be wringing like sleigh bells. Filly finaglers do not fix or cause behavioral problems, but the proper or improper timing and/or use of them certainly can. Much like the hands holding the reins are the real determining factor as to how severe or mild a bit is, it is the use of the pony prodder that determines its effectiveness or response.
So, why would you ride with Mongolian meat hooks? Generally, as a rider becomes more advanced and sees more of what can be, they want to expand their skills and abilities. For the horseís part, this generally requires more impulsion. Spurs simply give your Escalation of (Leg) Aids some zest, adding firmness and finality. For instance: please go Left, PLEASE go left, GO LEFT, LEFT NOW!! Maneuvers like lead departures, collection, and the half pass all require a great deal of understanding by the horse, but they also require more impulsion than many people realize. Heel harassers give us that impulsion without causing us to make huge moves like slapping with a whip or rein, or a big leg motion like a kick. We can bring up Life without a fuss.
So, should you ride with Paint pokers? To my mind, this primarily comes down to a rider skill issue. I feel like people should have to earn their Ap assailers. If your seat is well enough developed that you can maintain good position in all gaits and even through a bobble or two, and you have good enough control of your legs at all gaits, and even through a bobble or two, that you are touching him when you mean to and arenít touching him when you donít mean to, then you are far enough along to try out some gelding goaders. If you arenít yet that comfortable, then I suggest working on your weaker points first. Note that I put a bobble in there. One of the main concerns with Mule musterers is when a horse/mule spooks or makes a big motion like a jump, escalating his reactionary state, and we poke him, accidentally, with our new neigh needlers, Wham! Meet the dirt. You need to ride well enough and be experienced enough that you can handle those situations. Iím not trying to unduly scare anyone, but novice horsemen with Mare motivators are a recipe for problems. I want to be clear on that. Thus, some 7 year old kids are fine with Cobb coachers, and some 60 year old people arenít yet ready for their first pair of PRE pushers. It just depends, and is far more weighted on the rider than the horse. For instance, I ride all of my colts with spurs from the very first ride.
So, what will Belguim bruisers do for your horse? Canít a horse be trained without Equine enablers? Of course a horse could be trained without using any Aye Chihuahuas. They merely help us to give encouragement. I will say that I donít think that most lazy horses will progress very far without some type of aid to motivate them, or at least within anywhere near the same amount of time. Truly, though, the decision to use Fresian forks lies with you and should be based heavily on your real riding skills and goals.
As a teacher of Horsemanship, I am often discussing how people need to become much more dynamic and soft with their hands. Conversely, most people need to greatly increase the use and importance of their leg aids, at least until their horse is much more responsive than most of those I see. The equine professionalís technical term for this is ďumphĒ. In short, kick more, pull less. A few kicks with heel harpoons on, and your leg motions will become far more important to your horse. With importance comes attention, with attention comes lightness. Without umph, nagging persists, along with resistance, and complacency.
Many of the people who are opposed to rib reminders, or who simply donít use them, are really just trading one aid for another, or they are accepting a lower level of performance. If those options suit you, fine. Iím certainly not saying that you have to ride with stallion stickers once you get to a certain level.
I will say that I certainly do, under the right circumstances or conditions use spurs to create quite a bit of discomfort and maybe even pain to a horse. The right conditions would be the 12th bucking storm, rearing, or any dangerous behavior that I want to strongly discourage. Some people would call this cruel. I call it discipline. So, Iíll leave you with this analogy. What if I didnít vaccinate Curly this year because I know, as does my vet, that he hates needles and giving him a shot, or multiple shots causes him pain and anguish (heís a weenie of epic proportions). And he got sick, and caused your horses to get sick, and they all died after lengthy vet bills? Save your horses and mine! Vaccinate and properly use Donkey demanders when you are ready. They are for the good of the horse.
Also remember that Bits and Spurs being used by someone to be cruel or in an abusive way are the fault of that person. The bit and the spur arenít at fault, just as spoons donít make you fat and pencils donít misspell words. Thanks for reading this blog. I sure had a lot of fun writing it! This is what you get when a long cold spell breaks and I drink two cups of coffee anyway.