Question about spurs - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-17-2016, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Question about spurs

We're looking for a horse for my 12 year old daughter.

Some of the horses we've seen won't move without the rider using spurs.

My high level dressage riding friends tell me they always use spurs want the horse to listen NOW. Others tell me I do not want a horse who only moves when spurs are used. I've taken to asking when I call to enquire about ads whether or not the horse requires spurs and have been surprised to find how many do.

Is this normal?

We looked at a super experienced pony club horse yesterday that wouldn't budge without spurs. My cousin (who is buying the horse for my daughter) won't consider him because of that. I'm concerned we're missing out on a great horse.

May I ask your thoughts on this?
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-17-2016, 10:59 PM
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Spurs are for refining and sharpening aids. A horse who won't even go forward without them is not a good choice, and usually means they are deadsided and dull. Crops are for reinforcing forward.
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-17-2016, 11:49 PM
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Agree with above.
Spurs are only used, so that a horse does respond to very light leg cues alone.
THat means you always ask with legs first, and then only use enough spur pressure to get compliance to ignored light leg aids.
A horse should certainly not need spurs to make him move. I never wear spurs just trail riding, and my horses remain very light to leg aids alone.
The spurs are there 'just in case', when showing, where instant response to very light leg aids is needed, that are invisible to anyone watching. The horse knows you ride with spurs, and if you never touch a horse with that spur when you don't intend to, always ask with light legs first, then you seldom need to touch that horse with a spur.
On the other hand, if someone just goes to the spur, the horse has no reason to be light, and then just becomes dead sided
You do not want to buy a horse that NEEDS to be ridden with spurs.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 03:39 AM
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Agree with the above. Will also add a rider needs to have full control of their legs when riding with spurs
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 04:41 AM
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I wouldn't get any horse that needed Spurs, they should be for refinement rather than discipline.

I would also be very cautious of an experienced pony club horse that needed Spurs as many pony clubs don't allow you to use Spurs.
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 07:14 AM
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Spurs may be used in various ways for various purposes.

Spurs may be used to reach areas of a horse the rider cannot reach otherwise because of the shape of the rider and the shape of the horse. Spurs may be used to direct pressure in a more precise way to a smaller area of the horse’s body. Spurs may be used to touch, push, poke, rub, or – with rowels – to roll across a horse’s body.

Writing in the early 1700's, Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere stated that the proper use of spurs was to touch the hair, not the skin. Few riders use spurs in such a refined way. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are abusive. And even this writer stated that spurs may be used more aggressively if the horse does not respond.

If a horse only responds when spurs are employed, however, I would assume that the horse is not well trained. Compare this to other means of communication. Would you want to work with someone who only responds when you yell at them? Wouldn’t it be much more pleasant to communicate in a normal voice or even in a whisper?

This is not to say that a horse that responds only when spurs are used would necessarily be a bad choice. If properly re-trained, such a horse might respond more willingly to someone who speaks quietly to him than to someone who is always shouting at him. If you do not want to go to the trouble of re-training a horse, however, you should continue to look for one that was trained in a better way.

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post #7 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 10:44 AM
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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.
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 11:12 AM
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As others have stated a horse that only responds to a spur is not well trained. A well trained horse will respond to very subtle cues. I always wear spurs when riding but they are only used to refine or reinforce leg aids and I never have used them to induce forward motion. I always ask and expect a horse to respond to my leg without the aid of a spur, but if they don’t I will roll my spur on them to reinforce the aid.
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 11:55 AM
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Another point: How experienced is your daughter? A high level of leg control and a strong understanding of the other aids should be acquired before slapping spurs on a rider.

That aside, I agree with what everyone has said. Spurs are for subtle leg cues and refinement--they shouldn't be for bullying a horse into moving.

Frankly, I'm surprised you've encountered this many horses that /need/ them. I've only ridden one horse in my life that I've used them with.

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #10 of 14 Old 04-18-2016, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chasin Ponies View Post
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
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