Horses, True Cowboy/Ranch

Do I Believe In Crops and Spurs?

Coaly and I soloed yesterday!! Well, not our first solo, but our first solo in completely new territory that she’s never seen before. The poor girl–I didn’t think so many dogs would be out. She’s fine with that red Doberman, but a Pit bull like dog?? So much smaller and lunges in a completely different way!!! And of course, just as the dog ran across the road, his owner started shrieking (completely new to Coaly), a car driven by a teenage boy barely missed the dog, which pushed Coaly into the neighbor’s yard as the driver swore a word I won’t repeat, and a Golden Retriever dashย out barking straight ahead. She was completely lost as of what to do. Luckily, I was able to urge her down the road as the Pit bull’s owner grabbed him and the Golden Retriever was stuck behind an invisible fence. *whew*

We went on the trail system by our house, about 7 miles long. She was hyped up in a hot horse way and we covered those seven miles very quickly. ๐Ÿ™‚ But we worked on a lot of things: going away from home *gasp*, calmly passing other horses on the trail *double gasp*, bare patches of dirt *triple gasp* and, horror of horrors, WOODEN BRIDGES!!!!! *falls over in a faint*

CoalyOnBridge1However, after I tried to urge her on the bridge for a little bit, I got off and walked her across several times. As soon as she saw that I walked across and didn’t fallย down unimaginable heights to a granite rock ground, breaking every single bone in my body, she was fine with it and proceeded easily behind me. Score in the trust area!!! I led her across until she was comfortable simply standing there and then, with a sudden burst of inspiration, I took a picture. See how bored she looks?

C’mon, woman!! I want to get going! There are so many new things to see!! Why are you just STANDING there pointing that rectangle thingy at me??? We could be actually MOVING!!!! No, I will most certainly NOT give you a goodย picture, let’s just GO!! GO GO GO GO!!!

Ah, the joys of lazy horses. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, I’ve been working with her enough that she’s knows we are NOT going to move a SINGLEย step until she stands still for me. And so there is her, ‘c’mon man!!’ look. ๐Ÿ˜€

And that brings me to the point of this post.

I’ve carried a crop for most of my rides with Coaly. And on long rides with almost no spooks, you have a lot of time to think. Which is why a lot of cowboys consider themselves philosophers! (Ok, ok, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I just saw it somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) And on those long rides with almost no spooks when I have had a lot of time to think, I’ve thought a lot about the training I’ve done with Coaly. Mostly, I’ve tried to explain to other people why we’ve done what we’ve done. And then I wonder, do I fully believe this is the best way or am I just doing it because it’s what Grandpa said? How do I explain that to people?

I often think about my crop that I carry along with Coaly, because, next to the fact that I’m riding her with a western saddle and cowboy hat, the next noticeable fact is that I carry a crop. Is it really right to carry a crop on a new horse? Is it right to carry a crop at all? Or for that fact,ย spurs?? Is that even right?? How do I justify *choking gasp* HITTING A HORSE???

Well. I don’t.

Because I don’t hit a horse. No! I wouldn’t dream of it!! Honest!

I don’t hit a horse; I hit a horse who is misbehaving andย knows better. And no, I don’t flailย around, giving him bruises with my crop and gashing up his side with my spurs. Excuse me? I love my horse.

I didn’t carry a crop around until we had ridden Coaly for about a week. She was starting to raise up her barn sourness. So I started to carry a crop. Yes, those days (ok, maybe they aren’t over quite yet)ย when we spun around in circles, sidestepped, and all that good stuff, I used my crop. Otherwise, we would still be in those circles. A well-timed spank would send her off in the right direction and then we would be fine for the rest of the ride…until it was time to comeย back home.

Coaly took me in several big spins by the bridge before I got off. But I didn’t spank her there. No. She was scared. There is a huge difference between a scared horse and a misbehaving horse. Those of you who ride know the difference. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now what about Smoky? My dear Quarterlingerย is a bit lazy after all. Do I use a crop on him? No. I don’t. Why? Because I think that whoever had him before us whaled on him pretty hard with a crop. Whenever I bring out a crop, he goes berserk. But spurs? Nah, he’s fine with them. A little bump with those and we’re good.

I have a couple of rules for when I use my crop or whip.

  1. Make sure it’s not something else first!! (i.e. is he scared of something? Is there something wrong?)
  2. When I look back on this later, am I going to regret it? (i.e. Oh shucks, I’m so sorry Coaly. I lost my temper right there.)
  3. If for some reason, my horse can talk and asks me about it, is it going to make sense to him? (i.e. Well….I didn’t really have a reason…I just wanted to, you know, go faster.)

In conclusion, are crops and spurs ok? Answer: depends a lot on how and when you use them. No, it’s not ok to smash your horse up. To give a firm reminder of who is in charge? Yes. To cause your horse more fear at an already stressful situation? No. To give a little energy to a horse refuses leave the barn? Yes.

Be careful that you don’t lose your horse’s trust, but don’t let your horse run over you either.

What do you think of crops and spurs?


15 thoughts on “Do I Believe In Crops and Spurs?”

  1. It really does depend on how you use them! I am of the opinion, everyone can carry whips, but only better riders should wear spurs.

    For jumping and hacking I carry a short whip for giving small reminders on the shoulder if needed. – usually just to stop him crossing the road to avoid a road sign!

    When i’m schooling I carry a longer whip just to back up other aids. I choose this over spurs for several reasons including:
    – I can press it against the shoulder to stop drifting
    – I don’t feel my lower leg strength is good enough for spurs
    – I feel that spurs can cause some horses to hollow rather than work properly.

    I think it really does depend on the horse and rider and what you are doing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree with you! In our family, once you are allowed to wear spurs, it means that you’ve put some serious time in with horses and have risen in the family ranks of riders. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I actually prefer spurs because 1), I have this really bad tendency to lose crops…yes, even the ones with straps on them 2), I usually ride Smoky who absolutely hates them and 3), we rope a lot and that’s rather hard to do with a crop. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t have that many hands.

      However, I am glad that I’m using a crop with Coaly because I really don’t want to get in a fight with her while I’m wearing spurs. She’s pretty sensitive except while leaving home and I don’t want to mess that up. Also, I’m positive that I would be spurring her each time she has one of her unexpected colt jumps about something she’s never seen before. Smoky’s a pretty sensible horse and I don’t have that problem with him. Every now and then, I do accidentally spur him after he jumps because of a deer or something, and I feel really bad.

      Yes, it does depend on horse and rider! I’ve seen a lot of horses who could use the spur but the rider most certainly shouldn’t. I’ve also seen riders who could but their horses don’t need it!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love hearing your thoughts!! God bless and have a wonderful day!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so wonderful that you think about these things, you ask yourself about right and wrong, you think about your horse’s feelings… many use tools like these without a thought. That’s what they are is tools-in my opinion-generally for training, not ongoing. And should only be used by one who really knows how to use them. you brought up some tough questions here and I think your three points to ask yourself are excellent. Congrats on getting out on the trail too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to use them without a thoughts until I started riding Coaly and wondering how I would explain it to people. ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree, there are a lot of people who don’t know how to use spurs or crops and then they wonder why their horse gets all fired up when they bring either out which make them whup the horse more which makes him more excited….and on and on.

      But I have seen a lot of people who don’t use crops and spurs because it’s ‘cruel’ and their horse is unruly, walks over people, and never listens; basically dangerous. I do believe those people should cowgirl up and, please, stop telling me ‘my horse gets unruly sometimes, please be careful’, and get the horse in shape before they even go on a group ride! It’s their job to keep their horse under control and not my job to dodge out of their way.

      I’m glad you like my questions! As with most things horsey, I didn’t really start thinking about what I was doing until I was with Coaly and Grandpa was telling me ‘She is a colt (I know, I know, technically a filly, but at our house, all untrained horses are colts. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and ANYTHING can scare her. You shifting in the saddle, a door opening and shutting up some driveway, and sometimes even nothing at all. So be careful with this, watch that, sit tight, make sure to hold your crop like this so if she jumps you don’t spank her….’ and then I was thinking to myself ‘wow. i’ve been so spoiled with my trained horses!!’ That was when i realized why Grandpa had been training ME a certain way all these years, as in ‘sit like this’, ‘hold your reins like this’, ‘slip two fingers under the fork like this’, and ‘if I EVER see you spurring your horse just to go faster, I’m taking them away and you won’t see them again for another twenty years and 100,000 hours of barn work.’

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting!! God bless, and have a wonderful day and an easy move too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Coaly is teaching you as much as you are teaching Coaly ๐Ÿ™‚ and your Grandpa sounds like an amazing guide. Wow. What a great teacher you have in him!! Good for you, what an experience. And, thank you, for your well wishes on our move.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes she is!! ๐Ÿ™‚ And he is too!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t know where my riding skills would be without him. And your welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚ I seriously hope that you can chill out and recuperate there. ๐Ÿ™‚


            1. Hahaha. Yes! Smiley faces! Everyone needs those lovely smileys. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚


              Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post! I agree, it depends on the horse and rider. Crops and spurs are communication aids, not to be used to punish or hurt your horse. Anyone who doesn’t get that shouldn’t be using either, in my opinion.
    I often use a crop when riding Ebenezer, he is barn sour as well and we have certainly had our share of circles. I have never hit him, EVER! The crop is just a handy tool to give him a clear cue to keep moving forward, all it takes is a light (but sometimes firm) tap on the fleshy part of his shoulder, not the bone.
    I don’t use spurs, never have. I feel the same way about spurs as crops, but since we’re not doing alot of cutting or yielding out on the trials I’ve never had a need for anything more than my boot heel.
    I love the questions you ask yourself! It is so important to understand your horse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they are only for communication, but I also believe in punishment. I don’t believe punishment should be done in anger or unrealistically, but I do believe in punishment.

      Yes, I know about those circles!! I also know what a light and firm tap can do to stop them!! What do you do with Ebenezer? (I’m always looking for new things to do or try with my horses. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

      I also feel the same way about spurs! But I do think that you need to be a much better rider to use spurs than crops since spurs are on the rider’s heel and very close to the horse and it’s easy to just ‘bump’ them at the wrong time. Crops, however, are one your wrist/hand and it is not as easy to ‘bump’ them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I love hearing other people’s thoughts! God bless and have a wonderful day!! ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. I trail ride. I am looking for new things to do with my horses too ๐Ÿ™‚ I really want to start doing ACTHA events (competitive trail), and I love studying different trainers and playing around with different techniques.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Competitive Trail Rides are awesome!! I’ve done one (25 miler) so far but I plan on doing at least two more this year. ๐Ÿ˜€ Are you in the States or somewhere else? Have you done any yet?

          And yes!! I do too!! It is so fun to compare Clinton Anderson to Stacie Westfall to everyone else. ๐Ÿ™‚


          1. Yes I’m in the US, Virginia to be exact. I haven’t done any rides competitively yet. I am hoping to take this year to build a stronger partnership and more confidence in new situations, and finish up some much needed trailer repairs (we can’t travel at the moment). Next summer we will be ready ๐Ÿ˜‰


            1. Ok cool!!! That should be fun!!! Good luck on your year of strengthening. I hope that it brings you good rewards! And good luck with trailer repairs. Those can be a pain, can’t they??? *sigh* Next summer, here you come!! ๐Ÿ˜€

              Liked by 1 person

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