Why do you use spurs on your horse?

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From: HorseTalkNZ

Decades ago, I removed my spurs. Research studies suggested that lack of forward movement was not due to insufficient propulsive activity of the hind legs but instead, the incapacity of the thoracolumbar spine’s muscular system to properly transmit forward through the thoracolumbar spine, the thrust generated by the hind legs.

Blood marks from spurs

Blood marks from spurs

Basically, lack of forward movement was because of spine dysfunction instead of a lack of hind leg activity. The thought behind removing my spurs was that with the spurs on I would likely be looking to the problems associated with increasing hind leg activity, instead of concentrating on the thoracolumbar column dysfunction.

It was amazing how fast the horses adapted to the no-spurs situation. In fact, very soon, they responded with greater accuracy to any touch of my legs. At first, I attributed their calmness, subtleness and higher sensitivity to the fact that they no longer feared the sharp contact of the spurs. Equine research had already demonstrated the wrongness of Gustave Steinbrecht’s “spur attacks.”

Jean Marie Denoix DVM, PhD explained that having two heads, one inserted higher on one vertebral body and the other lower on the adjacent vertebrae, backward movement of the rib stimulated by the contraction of the muscles situate between the ribs, “spurs attack,” compressed and therefore altered the mobility of the two vertebrae connected to the rib.

Further studies demonstrated that the old concept of the rider’s legs stimulating muscles engaging the hind legs was unrelated to equine functional anatomy. The muscles situated under the rider’s leg are the rectus abdominis and they don’t engage the hind legs. The rider’s leg touches sensors, which are designed to feel touch. These sensors have the capacity to feel a fly.

”Protection against external parasites involves feeling their presence and taking appropriated action.” (Carol A Saslow)

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3 Comments
  • Daniel Cordero

    A good rider, any rider in fact, doesn’t need spurs. And this article proves it.

    June 15, 2015
  • Gail Wiot

    I totally agree with the previous comment. I believe the balance of the rider and the horse’s conformation are the case. The conformation of both the Horse and rider play part in this. Spurs do nothing but irratate the Horse and send the wrong signals.

    June 15, 2015
  • Robynne Catheron

    I have always believed spurs are painful and unnecessary. It irks me to no end to see a rider spur a horse to run faster or move quicker. Why would you hurt a horse that’s already giving you all he’s got? The common excuses, “they motivate him” and “I’m not jabbing them, I’m rolling them” and “spurs are only bad if you don’t know how to use them,” are as old as dirt and don’t wash. They’re an artificial aid, and thus a shortcut to training. They hurt, and cause resentment and fear from the horse, especially barrel racers who, for aeons, think they need to get their legs horizontal in order to slam the sides of their horses. IMHO, spurs should be outlawed.

    June 17, 2015