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Discussion Starter #1
So I had an interesting thing come up in a horse lesson. My friends horse was being a little lazy, and so she gave it a kick (keep in mind we were riding :lol:, and also this was our first lesson with this instructor) and they instructor told her not to kick a horse, get some small spurs or a crop. Now that I think about it, I would rather be given a small poke with a fingernail than a couple punches (small ones that it is). Of course you have to know how to use spurs, not abuse the use, and of course the small simple short english ones- not the "cowboy" ones. I know, if used correctly the western ones are fine- but they just don't look that kind! Does anyone have any opinions on this, anyone see my reasoning? What do you do/prefer?
 

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I have always preferred a crop, because with spurs it's easy for less-experienced legs to unintentionally put/keep the spurs on.
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Neither, I've never kicked my mare... I like a good ol tree switch every now and then. But actually, I tied a old nylon flat rope to my saddle horn and just carry it with me, if Indie feels the need to ignore verble/seat commands to pick up the pace, I just gotta lift up the rope and slap my own leg with it and she gets the point.

Using a switch (lightly unless otherwise needed) in the beginning of her training when I nudged my heels, actually kept her very soft with the leg commands. It's rare she ignores my leg, and usually just because its due to her moody heat cycle blowing through :eyeroll:

But yeah, I prefer a switch to kicking or spurs, never liked either personally.
 

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I have been taught to use a dressage whip to reenforce my leg. I don't like a dead sided horse and kicking them repeatedly to get the response is the fastest way to end up with one. You do have to use any aide correctly, but I agree totally that properly used spurs are much nicer to a horse than kicking the snot out of him.
 

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I would prefer to give a dressage whip to your friend than spurs. Only because spurs are very easy to misuse if the lower leg is not absolutely steady and in control.
A dressage whip allows the rider to tap the 'engine' of the horse - the hindquarters- and is more easily controlled.
 

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Using a switch (lightly unless otherwise needed) in the beginning of her training when I nudged my heels, actually kept her very soft with the leg commands. It's rare she ignores my leg, and usually just because its due to her moody heat cycle blowing through :eyeroll:

But yeah, I prefer a switch to kicking or spurs, never liked either personally.
I think for the sake of this thread, nudge and bump still count as a "kick." I have never lifted my legs to haul off and hammer a horse in the ribs, but the rhythmic nudges that I use to drive a horse forward into my hand, I still call a kick in conversation.

In certain competitive riding settings, Dressage being one, you have to have a level of precision to your horses response that seat and soft leg alone cannot achieve. Spurs, used correctly, on a horse that has been trained to understand the nuances of leg for lateral work, are actually less "severe" than a crop or whip.


I do agree that in early lessons, it is much easier to control a whip. Until you have very good control of your leg, and great balance, before spurs are effective without the risk of "shouting" at your horse by mistake.
 

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I believe you should rarely HAVE to kick a horse that way. You need to teach the horse to respect the leg enough to react to a slight squeeze. I ask with a slight squeeze, if the horse ignores me I will squeeze harder. If he still ignores me I will give him a tap with a dressage whip. When he reacts to that, I will praise him and then go back to the squeeze. The horse learns to listen for the squeeze. He learns if he doesn't, the tap is coming.

Kicking is reserved to the bigger problems than just asking the horse to go forward.
 

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I use all of thee above except whips. Western spurs are not bad if used correctly. I personally have only used Western spurs because I know how to use them. I like kicking/nudging best. But I do have a horse that is lazy and prefers to do what he wants and I use spurs for renforcement. He is a turd with no spurs and he is perfect with them. I will ask him to do thinks verbally and with nudges first and if he doesn't respond he gets a slight poke with spurs.
 

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I think for the sake of this thread, nudge and bump still count as a "kick." I have never lifted my legs to haul off and hammer a horse in the ribs, but the rhythmic nudges that I use to drive a horse forward into my hand, I still call a kick in conversation.
Personally, I draw a BIG line between kicking and nudging the sides of a horse. Kicking is lifting the heels (however much) and then impacting them against the horse, whereas a nudge is turning the heels inwards and applying pressure to receive a response. But yes, different people explain it different ways, hopefully that clears up whatever I meant a little better. :)
 

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Everyone here said what I was going to say Except..

English spurs are harsher than most western ones. (in the retrospect of being used correctly) Its all a regard to surface area. Its like the difference between being poked with a finger or a tooth pick. Smaller equals more pain and trauma to the area. If there are lots of spikes on the spurs, they just look evil, less spikes can be very harsh because then you are poking with even less diameter than an english spur. So in terms of harsher spurs you go smaller.

Though western spurs are the ones that can cause more damage is used incorrectly because they have a longer distance from the start of the spur to the boot.
 

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Sometimes just the sight of a crop is enough to make some horses instant perfect angels. I know my old gelding was like that, as were several of our horses at the Girl Scout horse camp. With my old gelding, if you so much as SAID the word "crop," he was suddenly the best horse in creation. Take a pair of spurs to him, on the other hand, and he completely ignored you (had to do with the way his previous owners "trained" him). At the horse camp, there were a couple of the horses (Sassy and Strawberry, in particular) that we had to walk beside them with a crop, right where they could see us, because they would slow down to the point of stopping and completely ignore the fleas...I mean, little girls...kicking away on their backs, especially if we had really little ones up on them.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I'd use a crop over spurs any day.
 

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Crop definitely. Spurs and an inexperienced rider is not a good combination.

Spurs are intended for refinement, not forward. If they were intended for forward, jockeys would use them.
 

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Uh...not really. Jockeys have no leg on the horse. How could they use them? Spurs can be used to create energy...for whatever purpose. Forward, lateral, transitions, spurs can come in handy for all of that.
 

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Both of my horses tend to accelerate by thought waves, but I encountered horses when taking lessons this summer that were burnt out. There were times I kicked as hard as I could for several minutes to get one going. And yes, I would prefer a crop to doing that.

What the instructor emphasized is what Allison mentioned (if I interpreted her right). Always start with a squeeze. Go to a nudge, then a bump, then a kick. But do that sequence EVERY time. It may take the horse 50 times, but on time 51 he may respond at the bump...and then he has learned something. With time, you can train him down to a small squeeze. With the worst lesson horse there, at the end of an hour he was responding to a bump consistently, and sometimes a nudge. I saw others riding him later, and they would go direct to a kick - which was why he behaved like he did.

I don't object to spurs, but I'd feel very uncomfortable using them. My gelding was spurred completely thru the skin, and arrived with two holes in his sides about Coke can bottom sized. One has healed, the other is a scar. I'd love to meet the guy who did that and use him for target practice - the gelding wants nothing more than to obey his rider. Ride him light, and you can see him straining to understand so he can obey.

But a good rider uses spurs for subtlety, not to increase force. I'm just not that good a rider.
 

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I rode in a clinic under an ex Olympian a few years ago. He had a couple of us with less responsive horses go in a circle, at a walk...and squeeze for the trot. If there was no immediate response, we were to give a tap with our whips/crops. It only took that happening about 3 times for our horses to move off with the squeeze. I still go back to this if the school horse I ride (and the same one I rode in that clinic) decides he wants to be lazy.


I also recall clearly auditing a clinic this year in late spring, and the clinician telling her student to stop nagging her pony with the spur. If he wasn't responding, she was to tap him with the whip to reinforce her leg.


My riding coach likes to ask us why we are all carrying crops if we are not going to use them to reinforce our leg...
 

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And nagging can be done with any aid.....just to be clear. Crops/whips included. if you use it, please-use it. Smack once as opposed to tap tap tap...... So many people are "afwaid of huwting the widdle howsie."
 

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Oh, for sure it could.

But I happen to be reasonably smart and know enough about "my" horse to know that he doesn't like to be hit with the crop. Because of that reason, it needs to be one good tap, and it won't have to be used the rest of the lesson.... So sometimes it is just a small little love tap to remind him I will use it, and save the good smart taps for when I really need it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I was meaning kicking as bringing your legs off the horse and bringing them down with impact ;-) And that is an interesting point someone said- the bigger surface area the less harsh. But arent spurs with spikes harsher than the english ones?? Of course it depends on the sharpness of spikes, but the average i guess, not really dull but not really sharp. So technically the gentlest spur would be those round ones with the large round ends... Right? Im not sure if that falls under english or western, but I guess more of western. Of course, spurs are not effective and perhaps cruel in the wrong hands, but with instruction and a experienced rider what would you consider better- crop, kick, or gentle round spurs? All in a trained and experienced rider. I would go with spurs for flat work, crop for jumping, as I would be worried about accidently jabbing the horse when jumping, even if you have a good solid leg, you ARE going to slip sometime.
 

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I have found spurs not so effective for forward - generally the horse will lift his belly which is good for precision or lateral work. A whip is far more effective for forward

I always use rowel spurs - IMHO blunt dummy spurs are harsher, as they poke into the one spot. The rowels roll up the horses side. All of my horses have preferred rowels and got ****y (ears back, tail swishing, humping) when I tried dummy spurs.
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Im looking at diameter and how you touch the horse with it. With spurs you us pressure and roll the spur into using however much is required to get a response. If you ever have access to multiple spurs lay them along your thigh like you would on a horses side, and roll them in. See how it feels. I have noticed that I like the western spurs more, and so do the horses. Its like laying on a bed of nails, would you rather lay on one nail or a couple hundred? I prefer the couple hundred. I've had some horses calmly respond to the large rowel western spurs versus jumping away from the english ones. So In a sense of surface area vs length = severity.

This spur would hurt the least :

^^ Big with lots of very short spikes that wouldn't feel too much


^^Small, but short enough to not be that much of an issue.

This ones in the middle :

^^ I use this for western work. It rolls nicely off the sides, and has a wider rowel than an english spur, but is also smaller, and long off the boot, so any harsh riding or kicking could cause pain.


^^The length makes this more sever

Then a level harsher :


This is because of a flat edge its diameter and length.

And this one as the harshest of all : (I think its english...but you can find spurs like this in english AND western. I have yet to see an english one like this in person but have seen a few western, but overall it is uncommon)


I hope I got these all organized right. But its all a look at HOW you're using it. I know some riders who could ride in that last spurs and have the right technique to use it without hurting the horse at all...but it requires such precision that I would not use it. I use no spurs for english, use the squeeze, cluck, smack system. Western I use spurs for turning around the barrel, nothing to do with speed or a lack of respect for me heel in forward momentum.

This is the physics I understand it to be, If I'm wrong feel free to correct me.
 
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