General (& probably silly) question about spurs

SarahC

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Hi all, S:D

This question doesn't relate to me and is purely out of curiousity, however I'm interested to know the exact purpose of spurs and why one would use them.

The reason I ask is that during a recent search on the internet, one site said that they were for 'lazy' horses to get them moving! Surely this isn't totally the only reason for using spurs?

I was watching some sj on tv last night (spruce meadows if anyone watches Sky Sports?!) and noticed that most of the professional riders used spurs and their horses were chomping at the bit to go - definitely not lazy!!!

Thanks!
 

DavidH

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Spurs are used for different reasons.
They allow a finer degree of control on the position of pressure on the horse.
They allow pressure to be applied with minimal leg movement and hence less risk of imbalance.
They allow a very positive pressure at critical times eg if a horse backs off a couple of strides out from a big XC fence

The one time I wouldn't use them is on a lazy horse. This is a training issue and should be delt with in other ways.
Spurs are an aid to good training, not a replacement for them and should only be worn by riders who have very good balance and control of the lower leg.
 

Lgd

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Spurs are for the refinement of the aids. The idea is that you can give very small precise aids.

Some people unfortunately do use them (wrongly) for impulsion when they are not needed.

In dressage they are not compulsory until Advanced level. To use them correctly you need to have a very stable lower leg position.

I always took mine off to jump so that I didn't catch the horse by mistake. Hence I've never figured out just why SJers need to wear them :rolleyes:
 

SarahC

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Thanks for that...thats cleared up that one for me!!

Like I said, not something I use and probably never will, but have always been curious about it!!

Thanks again

S
 

herbyhorse

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them spurs

precision tools them spurs.

not to be used by the inexperienced indeed!

never really liked them as they are an abusive extension of the leg, and if your horse won't move off you leg willingly, do we really want to needle them in the side? NOt I!

By the way I ride the epitomy of what might be referred ot as "Lazy", but it's a matter of getting him interested, oh and due to abuse in his younger years he will ignore spurs, I suspect until he bleeds. praise and encouragement is getting us intheright direction.

HH
 

casey

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Originally posted by Lgd

I always took mine off to jump so that I didn't catch the horse by mistake. Hence I've never figured out just why SJers need to wear them :rolleyes:

Perhaps top level SJers dont catch their horses by mistake;)

Edit to add:- Well trained SJ horses also need refinement of aids. They need to be able to move laterally, collect/extend all within a course of jumps. They also need to move off your leg when you say, and not in their own time. I for one, wear spurs on all my horses. Bar the youngsters!
 
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DavidH

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Re: them spurs

Originally posted by herbyhorse
precision tools them spurs.
never really liked them as they are an abusive extension of the leg

I take exception to that statement.

It is incorrect or uneducated use that is an abuse, not the spur itself.

I see far more abuse of the bit than I do of the spur. Come to think of it, an ill fitting saddle is a very serious abuse of the horse.

Perhaps we should all ride bareback in halters rather than educated ourselves in the proper use of appropriate equipment.
 

shaka

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Originally posted by Lgd


I always took mine off to jump so that I didn't catch the horse by mistake. Hence I've never figured out just why SJers need to wear them :rolleyes:

When jumping bigger and more technical tracks or on more sensitive horses you want to keep as still as possible. As DavidH says, if you use them correctly you can apply the required pressure with as little leg movement as possible so you don't get out of balance. It's also handy to have should a horse try to back off, say, a scary filler, as with a cross country fence.

Herbyhorse, they are certainly not an abusive extension of the leg if used correctly. If used correctly you also shouldn't be 'needling them in the sides.' You say this is abusive, but I certainly don't see how it is non-abusive to kick a horse hard in the ribs repeatedly.
 

Sophini

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The Event rider i used to groom for insisted on spurs so that the horse learns to go off a light leg aid and if that is ignored they get a touch of a spur to remind them to listen. He horses were the lightest horses to ride, if your lower leg wasn't secure you were giving them all sorts of aids and would be all over the place!!:D

I always used to ride Lily in small spurs and will hack Kitty in them as for both of them their napping takes preference over listening to my legs and there are times when muscle alone is having no effect!!!

I would agree with previous comments, if carefully used to back up the leg then there is no problem, but they can be abused. I have seen people "give him a boot" with their toes turned firmly outwards and the spur jabbed into their side - this isn't how to use them :mad:
 

helenc

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Echo davidh, shaka et al!

Spurs should be used to give a precise aid. The reason (most) spurs are worn at the back of the heel is so that they are not in constant use but can be used if needed.

I'd like to re-iterate that they aren't evil pointy extensions of the leg!
 

SarahC

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Oh dear....I had no idea that this could be a sore subject...sorry if I've stirred things up a bit.

Although I have to say, interesting to hear all your different points of view. I myself have seen spurs used all to often just to get a 'lazy' horse going, which is also what the internet site said (can't remember which one) that I mentioned earlier. I asked about this, as my point of view is that any horse should be able to move off your leg with correct schooling, training and aids and as the top sjers use them, I wondered if they weren't actually intended for this reason at all and had just been 'converted' to being used this way. It seems so!

Anyway, respecting everyone's different points of view on this, thanks for answering my question.

S
 

herbyhorse

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Precision tools them spurs

Sorry, perhpas I should have said Can!

but were we not discussing inexperienced use of spurs, or did I get that wrong?

I still hold that we should surley be aiming to get or horses moving from the meerest of aids ... or is a prod in the side acceptible as a quick fix?

oh and riding bareback would so obviously not be the most comfortable for a horse with someone who isn't used to it, just the same as spurs on the legs of the inexperienced.

HH
 

DavidH

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I took the original question as what should spurs be used for, not the incorrect use of them.

You are correct in saying that we should be aiming for lightness of aids. Spurs can and should be very light in there use. They are without doubt if used properly, far more precise than a general leg aid and should be used as such. NOT for a fix to resistance.
 

Dummer&Drummer

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sarahC dont worry, it is good to have a debate about things sometimes :) thats what this site is for, to get everyones very diff opinions and then you can make up your own mind, (quite hard sometimes when your replying in writing and not in person to know how people are reacting, but everyone seems nice on this site :) )

i am a novice with a bad leg, and i have tried spurs (under close instruction) to help me when i ride one particular horse i ride, but we realised that i cant use my left spur with my bad leg as i can not move my ankle round, a slight problem with the spur on the back of the heel :)

i have now got a pair of 'cone' spurs which are like four rounded little (unsharp) teeth/grooves which are positioned on the side of the spur, this way i dont have to move my ankle round at all and the horse can feel it every time i give him a bit of a nudge, this is great as it was a bit confusing for him only being nudged with one leg, he could not feel it and was quite off balancing in the process

is it kind to wear this as it is in a position that he can feel all of the time i nudge - used correctly i would say yes it is, having a disability in my leg meant i could not ride quite like others and give the commands clearly that they could but now i can

think it was more harder on the horse to have mixed messages that are not clear, to use the whip more just cos i could not give a clear signal to him with my legs and hey presto when the poor horse had understood what i was asking for i was too off balance to follow anything up, so the poor horse, and me, had to start from scratch again :)

these spurs are fantastic for someone like me, they give me a helping hand and in turn the horse gets an easier life, i believe. i jump no problem in them as well, there is no protuding piece of metal to knock the horse, and i am helping the horse by cantering for the jumps, such hard work for these poor horses to jump at trott all of the time causing them to bunny hop :), we are even cantering pretty soon after i have asked now which makes life easier all round, and the horse can have a nice balanced pace on approach

they are not as effective as a spurs (obviously given the position of the teeth/grooves, could not have a lump of metal sticking out in that position) but we did not want them to do the job of spurs, just to give me a hleping hand with making my bad leg as affective as possible
 

Cheko

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Spurs should only be used by someone who can keep their lower leg still. I dont need to use them myself but spurs used very lightly as tho just brushing the coat is far better than the ugly kicking that is seen at some shows and many riding schools. A horse that is ridden in spurs by a very experienced, quiet rider is far more responsive than the old plodder with the person on top constantly kicking the beast's sides. I'm talking about the blunt 'dummy' spurs not the ones with vicious rowels.
 

Bay Mare

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Even rowels don't have to be vicious in the right hands. The Head Girl at my old yard used to wear rowels, I admit to being horrified but asked her WHY :eek: nonetheless. Her explanation (she's doing Advanced Medium and Advanced Dressage) was that the 'kinder' blunt spurs always rubbed his coat (she has a very good, very still leg and didn't rub any of the other horses that she rode in this way) and the rowels moved enough to have the effect of a more precise aid but without the coat rub. His old owner had the same problem with spurs on him too. The YO WOULD NOT have let her near her own advanced dressage horses if she felt that her leg position and stablility wasn't good enough.
 
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