I remember when I first started using spurs 17 years ago when I started in reining. Everyone was using spurs.... so I did too.
To fit in, of course....
It felt cool. Like one of the gang. And I loved the sound of the spurs hitting the ground. It is a nice jingle sound. (No wonder vaqueros put jingle bobs on their spurs. It was almost musical...)
I had never used them before. Didn't know how. Before then, I thought I didn't need them. And I was a little afraid to use them.
Besides...... I was also concerned that I would hurt my horse. Or much worse.... cause a problem that couldn't be fixed.
If you're like me, rather than using the spurs effectively, I really was very ineffective. I didn't want to hurt my horse. I probably ended up being a nag to my horse.
I still see that a lot now a days.
Horses end up swishing their tails or ringing their tails to let us riders know that we are being a nag. And if we don't become aware of this and change our use of spurs.... well then.... we've developed a bad habit in our horse.
No wonder there is so much bad press about spurs. I think riders just would rather not use them than make a mess.
How I Improved
Through trial and error and a lot of feedback from my horse, I learned how to use spurs. In reining, and other sports, spurs are necessary.
I also read a lot too. This was also the time I started to read everything I could from Bob Avila. I, like everyone, wanted to know how to use spurs properly. There is so much anti-spur fear everywhere that I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
I think that's just it.... fear.... We humans are hesitant around anything that people fear. And spurs is one of them.
One thing I always say is 'the more severe the equipment, the less you use and the more you let the horse know they are there'. Spurs is a good example. To me, they really are to increase the effectiveness of your communication.
I'm reminded of a Stacey Westfall's article where she explains matter-of-factly the purpose of spurs. Namely: 1) Nothing more than a motivator and 2)they will not fix your problems.
Next 2 articles will talk about why a rider needs to use spurs, when to use spurs and when not to use spurs so as not to cause problems in your horse. I want to alleviate the fear of spurs for you. And to give more information on their use as well.
Until next time... Oh... Here's an interesting article on the history of spurs. I can't vouch for the accuracy.
Questions and comments are always welcome.
If you need help with spurs or anything else, please contact me.
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