Monday, March 9, 2009

The Point of Spurs

Why Use Spurs?

(photo of a pair of Clinton Anderson aussie spurs)

I had a gelding once that was heavy sided. Which means the horse would not listen very well to my leg cue. (Much like Trigger in my articles. I never got to the point of using spurs on him).
I was having trouble getting the horse to change leads. He would not yield his hind end every time when I asked him to. He would sometimes miss the lead change. I also had trouble getting him to maneuver around things like trees or move him around while riding in the open.
I got to the point where my legs were killing me to get this horse to leg yield; I had to push, bump and kick so hard! My legs were so sore after I rode.

I couldn't do it anymore. It wasn't any fun. It was getting so that I was reluctant to ride him.
This is why you need to use spurs!
He and I ended up being the 2003 Reining Canada Novice Horse Non-Pro Top 10. With this gelding, I had to end up using fairly sharp spurs since he was so dull sided and I have such a short and light leg!

I also want to mention the other point of spurs and that is to refine your leg cues. To refine your communication with your horse. Having to press, bump, kick and then kick harder was not learning to refine my leg cue.... rather the opposite. It just teaches riders to get in a bad habit of kicking your horse all the time. That's inhumane.
So that is why we need to use spurs!!!

The example above is a good time to put on spurs or a sharper spur (in this case). When the rider is having trouble getting the horse to respond promptly to a leg yield and has had to bump, kick and then repeatedly kick to get a response, then it's time.
Or when the rider has to repeatedly really press hard with a light spur to the point of hurting your leg, then you have to move up to a sharper spur. The horse will not lighten up or respond promptly to the lighter spur. (It's similar to going from no spur to a light spur.)

The idea here is that the rider has tried for a period of time to get the horse to lighten up to the spur-less leg cue and it just ain't workin. Or the rider has to repeatedly lighten up the horse to the lighter spur at the beginning of most rides .... then it's time to move to a sharper spur.
Depends on the Horse Too

Some horses are more naturally dull sided than others. Conversely, some horses are quite sensitive on their sides and spurs would not be needed as a motivator. It depends on the horse's temperament.

The other time to use spurs (and there maybe others) is when the balanced rider is ready to refine or quieten down their leg cue. They want the leg cue to be a light or slight cue. Just a gentle push with the spur on the horse's side.
That's the time to use a spur. As a balanced rider you feel ready to advance your skills and to advance the horse's skills to a level of lighter leg cues. Just like the masters do. Next article will talk about when not to use spurs.

Questions and comments are always welcome.
If you need help with spurs or anything else please contact me.
©Copyright KISS Reiners

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