Spur Stop on Dressage Horse

Some background. I’m a para equestrian with cerebral palsy, and often my legs get tight, especially when I get nervous or excited. This often happens while on my horse. My horse tries his little heart out for me, but is sometimes frustrated and confused by my tightness. It has caused many spooks and falls. Would training him to spur stop, or something like it (ie stopping if I tighten up) help? Or would it be detrimental to his training as a dressage horse?

I think you would confuse him. You’d probably be better off teaching him an emergency voice command that would be obeyed in any situation.

Are you talking about training that is similar to what you see in some of the western disciplines?

What happens exactly when you get tight? Does he start to get nervous, jig and then gradually escalate until he spooks? Or does he spook suddenly?

I imagine there are people on COTH who have a lot of experience with para equestrian and can offer some specific advice.

My general feeling is that you can train your horse to respond to whatever aids you want it to. Whether that is good or bad depends on what you want to do a few years down the road or if you want to sell the horse later on.

What does your trainer say about this?

I, too, would recommend a voice command over a spur stop.

Are you actually talking about a spur stop or a leg/weight stop? If a spur stop why would you be wearing spurs (or consider wearing spurs) if your legs get tight?

If you’re talking about a leg/weight stop then yes, that might be a good idea, because a leg/weight stop is IMO, consistent with good dressage training because your horse should be listening to your seat, and when your legs clamp that stops your seat from following and he should stop.

OTOH, I also question why you’re riding a horse that you’ve fallen off many times? Sounds like you’re either trying to do way too much way too soon, or your horse is unsuitable?

Voice command. Spur stop would indeed be confusing, and could happen when you don’t mean it to happen.

This sounds like a great time to learn about clicker training! I know a dressae rider whose mare had developed a bolting habit. My friend did clicker training to install a soft “halt” command. Worked like a charm.