From Endurance to Dressage
What To Do With Bits and Spurs
Well, poke and thwack, obviously. I know some horses don't do well with spurs. Montoya, my super star endurance horse, didn't need spurs and would probably have been quite offended at their application. Mickey, an Arabian gelding I "raced" for several seasons, needed them to support his lack of confidence, and Speedy's a real stinker without them.
Now that Izzy is back in boot camp, the spurs and whip are once again part of my daily wear, and I do not hesitate to use them. He gets one opportunity to do what I ask and when he doesn't, he gets a smart thwack with the whip, or I use my heel clad spur. It is amazing how many of his naughty behaviors are subsiding.
I am still disappointed that he hasn't turned out to be the easy going boy that I thought he was, but I am starting to accept it. And really, it makes him easier to work with when I let go of the hope that "today" will be the day that he's submissive. Get over it, girl, it ain't gonna happen.
Someone commented the other day that it took three years before her horse was show ready. When I first read that, I was horrified. Three years! I can't wait that long. But after thinking about it for a while, I thought why not? I (mostly) enjoy the challenge, and Izzy is sure making me a better rider. So what if we're not zooming through the levels in his second year of being under saddle.
Then I got really greedy. I've been reassured by people who know that Izzy has an obvious talent for upper level work. Once I get him a bit more submissive, maybe we'll come out at Second Level and just skip all of this Intro and Training nonsense.
Since my life is still bordering on apocalyptic, taking that pressure off myself to GET IN THE SHOW RING is a good thing. Izzy is very talented, but he needs to figure out his job. If a few jabs with the spur and a few whacks with a whip will get it done more quickly, I have no reservation about their frequent application.
Until he starts giving me more frequent yes ma'ams, the whip and spurs stay.
We've been using a crop all summer since Copper has been in western pleasure mode and I'm trying to encourage dressage Copper to make an appearance. I have been leaving my spurs behind to make sure I don't accidentally tap him with them in canter work, but I had to break them out the other day since he's been making a weird habit of counter bending in turns. :/
11/9/2016 07:43:29 am
Accidental pokes are something to be aware of for sure. The way Izzy has been behaving, he even deserves those. LOL
The Dragon prefers spurs. My leg cues are too vague without them. Yes, it's true: that great big mare likes leetle teeny cues, so POW nubs it is.
11/9/2016 07:44:07 am
Love the expression!
11/9/2016 07:44:32 am
I hope you're right! :0)
11/5/2016 12:41:44 pm
The mare that I used to ride was a different horse with spurs, much more responsive and willing. Harley would definitely be offended. I do carry a whip though. I prefer little taps with the whip to leg pressure. It has taken me years to let those muscles relax and I don't want to tighten them up.
11/9/2016 07:45:17 am
I am finding that to be true. LOL He doesn't like long and long and definitely prefers to be up, up, up!
I'm glad they're working out for you. Spurs are a giant gap in my knowledge as a rider. I have spent 16 years riding horses who are way more prone to over-reaction to the aids than to tuning me out. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times that I even had to dig my heels in, so the concept of spurs is so foreign to me! A trainer made me put spurs on for a schoolmaster lesson last year and they felt so weird, I was so worried about accidently jabbing the horse that I kept my legs off even more than normal lol.
11/9/2016 07:45:54 am
Agreed, SarahO. We still need to get out there for sure. :0)
Lots of equestrians who show are very interested in moving up the levels quickly -- but I've learned to slow myself down and do what I feel most comfortable with. I'd imagine that the same principal would be beneficial for the horse -- go and do what Izzy is ready for, and slowly push his comfort zone. He'll get there right on time -- whatever that time is for him.
11/9/2016 07:46:20 am
Thanks, Tracy. :0)
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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