I will tell you what is happening with spurs and little girls learning to ride, especially WP Western. I can think of at least 6 "trainers" in my county who make the kids ride with spurs at all times and they soon cannot ride a horse any other way. At no point do they ever learn to ride with their legs.
The little girls and teens love to wear these things also for the "coolness" factor, they love the way they look & jingle walking around the barn. Obviously, to me, this is pure ignorance on the part of the "trainers", leads to real abuse as the kids end up jabbing the horses to death constantly but is extremely common.
I agree with the others on not buying a horse that depends on spurs. A horse that has been jabbed all of it's life is very difficult to turn around and make responsive to the leg. Unfortunately most of the people in my area never learned to use them properly and with finesse.
You are talking of the 'spur stop" which is being advocated against,, and was /is used by some western pleasure trainers , for their non pro and youth clients to have a 'button,' if you wish, to allow them to rate that horse on a drapped rein, more easily then skill needed to rate them with legs alone, only going to the spur if needed.
The spur is not used in this case, to have the horse move forward, quite the contrary, but has those spurs put into the horse, esp at the lope, to keep him slow. These horses become one trick ponies, afraid to move out, and thus can't cross over to western riding , HUS, ect, without a lot of re -training
I agree with most of what you are saying TXhorseman, except, in my books, one never goes to the spur other then a re -enforcement of the horse ignoring light leg aids. They should not be extensions for your legs, or even tickle the hair, if that horse listens to light leg alone
If someone can't ride, so to keep spurs off the horse, unless they intend to apply them, then they should not wear spurs. Many youth, esp when starting to ride, as well as many novice riders, fall into the class of riders who should not be using spurs