Questions about spurs
When i bought my first gelding he literally had spur holes in his sides. He was a pretty quiet boy, maybe even a bit lazy, but i carried a dressage whip instead of spurs and he was always pretty good for me. Then i bought my new jumper and he's quite the opposite. He has always been hot, had a huge step, and has been quite willing to move out for me. However, I've started to want to refine a few of my movements with him. I would like him to move off my leg with a whisper instead of a squeeze and a cluck/kiss.
So the other day i bought these:
Stubben Dynamic Soft Touch Spurs - Statelinetack.com
I used them on the flat and he was amazing today. Very light off my leg, but not over dramatic about it. I was pretty surprised considering how he nearly flipped over at the sight of a teeny little crop. The spurs seemed to afford me what I was looking for. However, my questions really are:
Since i don't have much experience with spurs, is it something that he will become dull to? I don't want to go from soft touch spurs, to cowboy rowels! You know what i mean? Also, i'm neurotic about spur holes. Is it something that only happens with a more harsh spur? I was inspecting every last hair after our ride today to make sure i didn't leave any marks. And lastly, do any of you feel like spurs are a cheap cop out to good training?? I feel like he's really great for me, but i'm not sure if spurs are just cheating.
Sorry for the novel! :-)
I use spurs when showing, but I generally leave them on my show boots and not my everyday riding. If ST is being horrible that day, Ill pop em on my boots as a backup.
Spurs (imo) are not for your general cues. I use calf, calf and boot, and then I apply spur until I achieve my desired action. Spurs are for precision. At shows I ride off the spurs because I dont want a judge to see excessive leg movements, I want them to see a horse that looks like it's reading my mind.
And about th spur marks..dont even worry about it. Unless you're really digging in sharp rowelled spurs, you arent going to leave a mark. I ride in rowells, and even when I really use them, they fur may be a little scruffed up, but no soreness, cuts, or holes. And regardless of what spurs someone uses, they arent being used correctly if there are marks when you get off the horse. If you're using leg and then spur, you should be fine and he shouldnt get dull sides, its only when used incorrectly that a horse becomes dull. And that goes for any kind of aid.
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From my personal experience, I think you'll be fine. I popped some spurs on (Prince of Wales) for about a month in early fall because my OTTB wasn't responding well to leg cues, and I was sick of carrying a crop to get a decent canter transition. Honestly, it was the best thing I've done in his training so far--it refined my cues, and it was like his brain clicked and he said, "Aha! That's what she wants!" I took them off after a month, and he's responding like a champ now with amazing transitions. I'll probably put them back on when I start teaching him some more advanced cues, and then take them off accordingly.
When I used them, he ended up with some ruffled hairs, and maybe a few dirt lines if he was in need of a bath. But they never seemed to cause him any discomfort, and there was no broken skin, soreness, etc. But I'm also very conservative about using them when I wear them. As far as I'm concerned, less is more.
I wear spurs to compete, and at home when I am working on laterals.
Spurs are not a torture device, it is the leg they are attached to that is the problem.
The spur holes on your gelding was from a rider with either terrible control of their lower leg, or an aggressive rider intentionally digging into him with spurs. You dont have to wear sharp rowels to cause a problem, blunt dummy spurs can cause awful injuries if used by a poor rider. The sharp spurs can cut more easily if misused, but blunts can cause extensive bruising over the ribs. I prefer to wear rowels than a blunt ended, fixed spur. The rowel spins along the horses side, rather than the jabbing, bruising motion of a dummy spur.
If you have a solid lower leg that does not swing at all, a d you do not have any issues with your toes sticking out, then you won't put holes or bruises in your horse. However, make sure that you always work seat, to leg (calf only) to spur (as a last resort). If you start to engage the spur constantly then yes you will dull the reaction. Hence I only train in spurs for lateral work, and even then will often ride without to ensure that I am getting the reaction from my leg without spur reliance.
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Oxer, I use these roweled spurs everyday, they may or may not touch my horses sides, he is clipped, so any misuse would show up pretty quickly.....I use them just as Kayty does, mainly for lateral work.
However, there are two little girls at our barn who ride in blunt English spurs, on their fat wooly ponies, in two point......their sides tell the tale......
A rowel is rolled....not stabbed....if its stabbed the rider has no place wearing them......
Hopefully Kayty will post a pic of my torture devices!:lol:
Thank you all for your wonderful input. I have a pretty solid and quiet leg. But I do tend to struggle with toeing out when i jump. Although I wouldn't ever ride my horse with spurs while on course.
I was able to achieve a much more responsive and lighter half pass this afternoon, while riding with the spur. He tends to get a little sticky on my leg from time to time, so i just reminded him that i had them on, and he moved off and carried himself better afterward. Really an interesting feeling. I suppose I will try to get more used to them. I have a dressage and/or equitation on the flat lesson on Sundays, so i will try just using them then and see how he goes. Also, see how the trainer feels about them!
I'm glad you have a new tool! The first time I wore spurs, dull roweled useless little things they were I though I was in heaven.....the horse I rode was sooooo lazy and as soon as I tickled him we were moving, it made my rides so much more enjoyable and I wasn't fighting to assert myself all the time. Horses are smart, and when they realize that leaning or not getting of your leg isn't an option anymore it makes life and riding a lot more enjoyable:-)
A good trainer said to me once ' you should never be working harder than the horse' ........work hard, but don't be carrying your horse:-)
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