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post #31 of 50 Old 03-01-2013, 04:23 AM
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^ A follow up from me on that thought, I think in an environment as stimulating as the trail you would want as many tools in your toolbox as you can. Don't want to go flying off from a scary looking bush monster and not be able to get those hindquarters disengaged because that horse doesn't feel your leg. If you're like me you have gummy worm horses too, they'll bend their nose every direction but that doesn't mean their shoulder is gonna follow.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #32 of 50 Old 03-01-2013, 07:20 AM
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I didn't use spurs for many years. Then, one day I had an epiphany. I had a mustang I was training. I was getting frustrated and thinking he just was not very bright, because he wouldn't learn certain things like turning on the hind quarters and side-pass with any precision. One day I put on a set of spurs, on the advice of my dad, just to see if it made any difference. Night and day! Suddenly that little mustang was the most willing and obedient riding partner one could have. He did everything I asked with as much precision as I wanted, and nothing more than a touch was needed. Turns out he was brighter than I was, but once I had spurs on, he changed his attitude. It greatly improved our relationship and both of us enjoyed our time together much more.

As the years have passed, I have found the use of spurs in training to help immensely. Horses tend to be more willing to try, more responsive, quicker to learn, and more obedient over the long haul. Learning to use spurs properly has not only help me with my horse training, but has made me a better trainer.

I will admit that there was a break-in period for me, and my little mustang got the brunt of it. After years of hitting hard with a heel when I needed to emphasize a cue, it took some time to get the "feel" of using spurs correctly. Now it is unusual for me to ride without them. I use a medium rowel "rodeo" spur.

For those who say a spur is for one thing and not another, I disagree. A spur is what you need it to be when you need it. It can be a touch cue, it can be a punishment, it can be a nice rub against the ribs. It's no different than your calf, your heel, your crop, or the end of your reins. It is just a tool and you use the tool you feel the most comfortable using. It's all the same to the horse. Personally, I don't carry a crop, quirt, whip, or anything of the kind. Don't need it. A touch with the spurs tells the horse everything I need to communicate, when we "need to talk".

As for using spurs on the trail, there is no general rule that can cover "the trail", simply because there are a lot of different kinds of "trail ride". Try whopping your horse with the reins when you have a pack horse lead in your other hand. Sometimes a quick jab with the spurs will get a reluctant horse through an obstacle quickly and easily, that otherwise could become a major disaster, especially when you have other horses following, such as pack animals.

I watched a great video recently of a man riding an arena trail event with no bridle on the horse, just a neck rope. It was inspirational to watch them work together. No bridle, nothing on the horse's head at all, just a neck rope...and spurs.

For me, it's better to have them and not need them, than to need them and not have them. There are no "one size fits all" rules on any of this stuff.

Last edited by thenrie; 03-01-2013 at 07:23 AM.
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post #33 of 50 Old 03-01-2013, 09:32 AM
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I agree with all that point out a spur is a tool and like any tool, if you don't know how to use it, leave it in the toolbox. If you can't keep your legs quiet, don't use them. If you can't keep your heels down, don't use them. Your first ride with spurs, don't use them .... prove you can keep them off the horse. Learn how to touch, tickle and roll the spurs. Spurs are used to reinforce cues and "excite" the horse. The horse needs to be introduced to spurs or you may find they "excite" him too much! I have horses that don't need spurs, some that do if you want them to respond quicker. Even have one that tests me to see if I'm wearing spurs. He will wait till I tickle him with a spur, then I don't have to use them after that, if I don't tickle him he is a real dead head. The moral of the story is, "if you don't know which end of the screwdriver to use for a hammer, don't use the tool"!
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post #34 of 50 Old 03-01-2013, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by tailskidwest View Post
He will wait till I tickle him with a spur, then I don't have to use them after that, if I don't tickle him he is a real dead head.

LOL, completely off topic, but this made something pop into my head. I once borrowed by Brother's cutting bred horse because mine was lame or I didn't have a trailer to get him to where I was going or something, I don't really remember.

I didn't bother to put my spurs on my boots thinking that Snuffy wouldn't need them because he's a cow-eating sunovagun and very well trained. Well, I ended up having an incredibly frustrating day because I guess Snuffy mistook me for Jason's 8 year old daughter (who is the one who rides him most...and the only other person who had ever ridden him besides Jason) and was nothing but an old plug all day long. On one hand, I was aggravated because I had a hard time getting him to watch a cow for me, but on the other hand, I was reminded of the things that make him an awesome horse for kids/beginners to ride.
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post #35 of 50 Old 03-01-2013, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everybody for your input. I was told be the Gentleman that has been helping me renew myself with horses. He said I needed to learn how to use them so
that I would not need to use them. The way he put it was that horses are very smart
and in most cases smarter than most men. He says if I learn to use them correctly
and use them with the horses I ride that they will know before you get in the saddle you have them on. He says that is like looking them in the eye and telling them that
we are riding today and I expect you to do what I tell you. That after they learn what spurs are you don't need to use them but you still need to ware them. Yes the first thing he did was take one in his hand and just barely poke me in the side so I would know that you don't need to kick the far out of them but more or less just a touch will do.
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post #36 of 50 Old 03-03-2013, 01:28 PM
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I wear spurs - doesn't mean I need them or use them - but I wear them.

My little black horse doesn't really need them - he's very responsive to leg and voice and seat - but I still wear them.

It only takes a minute to put them on before a ride. They're hardly an inconvenience, they don't get in the way, and (like I said) I really don't ever use them.

But I'd rather have them, than find myself in a situation where I WISH I had them.
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post #37 of 50 Old 03-04-2013, 12:40 AM
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Jim Andy, sounds like not a terrible peron to gain some perspective from.
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post #38 of 50 Old 03-04-2013, 01:00 AM
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I wear spurs with every horse I ride. That doesn't mean I use them with every horse I ride.

Spurs shouldn't ever be needed but only helpful for a moment. My trainer emphasizes the need for leg control to wear spurs, and to be honest, I felt pretty special when she told me I could wear them! I think thats how it should be, and I don't like to see complete newbies with them on. If a horse has spurs banging on his sides every stride, then he will become desensitized to it, and completely obliterate the point for spurs.

So that is my two cents. I think my opinion has been reiterated here a lot. Sorry!
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post #39 of 50 Old 03-04-2013, 11:11 AM
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To those that think they should always be worn, whether used or not.

Let me remind you, there are horses out there that will unload you, in a heart beat, if you do wear them(whether you use them or not). Much better to evaluate the horse's need for them before hand. Much better to be safe than sorry. Better to have a plug for a day, than a trip to the grave yard. Those that will unload you, do not do it gently. They mean to hurt you, and will often times come after you, after they dump you.

Two of the best trained horses I know of, are that way. They dumped their riders then pawed the living day lights out of them. It's a wonder they survived. From the time they were dumped until they sold them, the horses never responded well. The new owners had no problem at all with the horses, without spurs.

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post #40 of 50 Old 03-04-2013, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by gypsygirl View Post
imo spurs should be for refining, NOT of reinforcing. thats what a crop/whip is for !
A LOT of people don't carry a whip around while they ride, you know.

**I must not forget to thank the difficult horses, who made my life miserable, but who were better teachers than the well-behaved school horses who raised no problems.**
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