A huge argument in the horse world is whether it is okay to use spurs or a crop. Some people say its mean to the horse and some people say its okay. This is a concept I have wanted to cover for a while, so I hope you enjoy.
First, lets talk about spurs. I don't mind dressage spurs or spurs that have the little blunt ends, like round end spurs. I don't mind them because they shouldn't feel any pain, and the horse should only feel pressure. Kind of like if you were to tap the back of a pencil (the eraser part) on your leg. You wouldn't feel pain you would only feel pressure. I do not like the spurs that have pointy ends. These spurs can be very dangerous and extremely painful if over used or used by a beginner. Take that pencil from earlier and tap the pointy part (the led) into your leg. It hurts, right? Imagine how a horse would feel with two of them being pointed in his side.
The thing with spurs is they should never be used by a beginner for 2 reasons. 1: the beginner would likely over use them and wouldn't gain any leg strength. The beginner wouldn't be able to ride a stubborn horse without spurs which isn't good. 2: A beginner wouldn't be able to tell if they are using the spurs or not. They could be trotting and as they post be jamming the spur into the horse. This would be very painful for the horse and would likely cause the horse to become irritated and do something not naughty, but something to get the riders attention so they stop pointing the spurs in his stomach.
If you decide to get spurs I only recommend using them if you are an advanced rider. Try only using them every other lessons because you don't want to loose leg strength and power. If your horse still doesnt move with spurs then there could be something medically wrong with them. They could be in pain and be trying to tell you, which is why you always need to be on top of your horse's health.
I don't mind crops. I think they can be very helpful if you are a beginner and cant use spurs yet. I prefer crops over spurs because you don't have to constantly worry that you are poking the horse accidentally. Usually one light tap does the job and then you can keep on riding.
Many people have different ways of using crops. I like to give a light tap in the shoulder and that's all. I don't like when I see people slamming the crop multiple times on the horse's hind quarters. This will spook the horse and be very painful.
Just like spurs, you cannot over use a crop. You should only use it 2-3 times on a lightly stubborn horse or 3-4 times on a super lazy horse. Any more and you will loose the ability to ride without a crop and you wont have much leg strength.
All in all, spurs and crops can both be used in correctly. It is very important to know the difference between a lazy and sick horse, as your "stubborn" horse could just be in pain. Before using crops or spurs make sure to ask your riding instructor. I hope this helps you learn how to use crops and spurs correctly, so you and your horse are pain free.