Social License and Electric Spurs

Electric spurs are the latest scandal in the horse industry. I have not been following the hunter jumper show scene, so my adding their defense of the scandalous behavior of Andy Kocher and George Morris is a bit tardy. Defending Andy Kocher ‘s abuse of horses and George Morris’s abuse of young men indicates the hunter jumper show scene hosts a dangerously distorted set of values.

Here is the rationale for patenting the devices according to application filed with the US Patent Office:

In the training of horses and in the competitive riding of horses, such as in rodeos, for example, it frequently is necessary to force a horse to react in a predetermined manner. To accomplish this objective, it is quite common for the rider to wear a spur on each foot and to apply the spurs to the flanks or shoulders of the horse. Many of the spurs currently in use have sharpened tips or rowels which, applied to the horse, produce the desired reaction, but frequently break or wound the horses skin. Such wounds not only can be painful to the horse but also risk infection. In addition, such wounds, when healed, frequently present an unsightly appearance.”

So electric spurs are intended for people wanting a way to hurt their horses without leaving obvious evidence. Andy Kocher and the show jumping crowd takes that kind of thinking for granted through the highest levels. And that is what is wrong with the competitive horse industry.

I include the scandals because the forensic evidence is clear.

People who abuse animals also abuse people.

It is also nothing new. Here is a quote from Steinbrecht’s Gymnasium of the Horse. You can find these sentences on page 10 in the edition published in 2011. Although the information was compiled into a book after his death in 1885, Steinbrecht is still advising riders that:

‘ The jab with the spurs is the strongest and most emphatic influence with the spurs. It gives the horse a momentary intense pain and, by injuring the skin, causes infection and swelling of the parts involved so that, for some time, the sensitivity at that point is even greater.’

This is why I wrote my series on schooling horses. If your horse understands what you want, ‘they will give you their all with all their ardor’. If they do not understand what you want or have been physically compromised by your demands, hurting them more is not going to improve their performance.

Find more on the aids here

6 thoughts on “Social License and Electric Spurs

  1. I’ve just read this again. It is unbelievable!!! I have spent the last two months working on making my horse react to the lightest of aids from my inside ankle. I do wear spurs but they are tiny nubs that are barely one eighth of an inch. And I do not turn my toes out so they are not touching the horse. In dressage we are checked to see if there is any spur damage after a competition ride. I guess they don’t do this in the jumpers. You are right horses will work their best for us and the idea of electric spurs is just appalling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, spurs can help with more subtle leg aids… the less your leg moves the less your seat shifts. And riding ‘in the wind of the boot ‘ is so much more rewarding…I wish more people would put the time into to appreciate just how responsive a horse can be when they understand what you are asking of them….

      Liked by 1 person

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