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January 11, 2022 2 Comments
Don't wear your spurs to bed because it wouldn't be comfortable. Good advice right?
Anyway... the real reason for the title is to talk about spurs and bits and whips and what value they have and don't have in today's modern world of horse training.
First, everyone has opinions, that's okay. It's important to have and hear opinions and see them as opinions instead of facts. My opinion is that bits, spurs, and whips are tools. Sharp tools that can hurt if used wrong. It's easier to cut with a knife than a spoon. Does that make the knife a bad tool? How about the spoon? Is it a bad tool? Of course the answer is no. I learned how to cut with a spoon or a knife. Traditionally, one is better for cutting and one is better for holding. But both can do both. They are just tools.
So when I hear someone say you shouldn't use bits, spurs or whips, or you should, I always ask why? I don't use them myself but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. We live in a free country, use them if you like. But try to remember this... sharp tools cut easier so you'd better learn to be slower and more precise so as not to injure or abuse the animal you're using those tools on. Also, it's easier to cheat with sharper tools.
Here's what I mean by cheat. If I ask my horse to backup while riding, using a bit, I may get a better response earlier. But if I don't ask him to do it again without resistance, his response taught him nothing. In other words, it's too easy to be mechanical and not be mental about your day to day training. It's too easy because your horse responds to the sharpness of the tool rather than the mental connection of your signal/response training. What this means is, you get a horse that relies on the spurs or bit or whip and can't do it without because they never learned what you really want, they just learned to be puppets on strings. People who rely solely on sharp tools, do so because they either don't understand the deeper mental side of training or they don't care to understand or don't want to try the hard way and reap the benefits. I understand. The only cavate is the rules related to safety in competition. Some competitions require the use of those tools. Again remember, they are tools. You get to decide. Masters use those tools too. The difference is, masters can do it all without those tools or with those tools. They may choose to use bits, spurs and whips to get results sooner or easier but they don't need them.
The old joke I love is that you can give a mad genius a paper clip and stick of bubble gum and they can build a super computer. It applies to master horse trainers too. Give me a popsicle stick and peppermint and I can teach a horse to jump, lie down, canter on command, perform tempi lead changes and stop on cue while riding. It all takes time, but it's all possible. The point is, I used to wear spurs but I started taking them off to see if I could get the same results without. When I realized I couldn't, I decided to dive deeper into the mental side of training. The mastery side of training. If you like, you can try that too. If you're happy where you're at, I'm not a judgmental type. You do you. Just promise me you're kind with sharper tools. Promise your horse you'll earn and keep the bond and not just be a puppeteer.
Sleep on it. But do take those spurs off before you go to bed, because... Ouch!
Thanks for reading. As you all know by now, I love to hear from you. Comment below. I'm not here to judge. In my classes all tools are welcome. It's the hands that use the tools that need support from time to time to get to that next level.