Thursday, February 12, 2009
I Have Aids
No, no. Not that kind. The artificial kind. Spurs, riding crop, etc. Have you ever watched a person ride a horse while using some of these items and just cringe?? Yes. Misuse of riding aids is all too common. The show we went to this past weekend was FULL of people doing the "Yank on the mouth, spur spur, whip whip." Yeeeks it's a tough one to watch. So when you SEE others riding with their whip flailing around and smacking the horse wherever it seems to make contact or gouging their horse's guts out with their spurs, it kind of makes you wonder what and how you are actually supposed to use that stuff for.
Well for starters, whips and spurs are exactly what they say they are. ARTIFICIAL AIDS. They are NEVER supposed to be a substitute for proper riding! They are just the exclamation point at the end of your statement. OK, with that being said let's jump in.
Spurs are never to be sharp or so harsh that your horse bleeds. EVER. So moving on. You wear spurs on your boot and when you need that extra "HEY! Listen to what I'm asking YOU!" You are supposed to simply TURN your heel out so the spurs makes contact with the horse make your statement then turn your heel back to normal. Never bring your legs out and full on kick your horse with your spurs. If the turn of the heel doesn't seem to get you the response you desire, then tap tap with the spurs just enough for your reaction. You can do way too much damage to a horse's body AND training if you misuse spurs or whips. You can make a horse VERY dead-sided, to where they simply start to ignore ALL of your aids.
Crops and whips. This one should be easy enough. Crops and whips should almost ALWAYS be used right behind your leg. A crop is merely the reinforcement to your leg asking for the movement desired. Don't smack your horse on the butt or shoulder as that teaches NOTHING! You cue your horse with your leg, you get no response, so you ask again this time with the reinforcement of the crop right behind your leg, and ONCE! Not repeatedly smacking the crap of your horse. That AGAIN, does nobody, be it horse or human, any damn good!
Using artificial aids appropriately can really enhance you and your horse's performance. It can make riding slightly more appealing if you're on a pluggy school horse who refuses to move. Only experienced riders with GOOD leg control should ever use spurs. With both aids as well KNOW the horse before you decide that using this equipment is a good idea or not. You may smack a horse behind your leg and he takes off going crazy. Always be prepared. If you are asking a horse to move forward with a crop or spurs and he does just that by jumping forward, the worst thing you could do is then grab them in face. So be prepared. Realistically both a crop and spurs should really only be used with the help of a trainer or another experienced rider. There's no shame in having aids! Have fun and stay safe, but remember that they can be your greatest tool, or your worst nightmare depending on their use!!!