Last Updated on March 20, 2022
Spurs are a useful training aid for horses but need to be used in the correct way to be effective. If you’ve ever wondered how to wear spurs, we’ve got everything you need to know right here!
What Are Spurs?
A spur is a piece of metal that is attached to the back of the heel of the boot. They are normally attached using a leather or webbing strap. They are worn when riding horses to enhance the leg aids, although some people like to wear spurs as a fashion accessory!
Most spurs consist of a U-shaped piece of metal, called the heel band or yoke. At the bottom point of the heel band is a metal shank, called the rowel. This is the point that makes contact with the horse’s flanks.
Are There Different Types Of Spurs?
There are many different types of spurs, and they are used in both English and Western styles of riding. All types of spurs have the same basic design, but there are a huge number of variations on the types of rowels available.
For English riding styles, the rowel, or shank, of the spur is normally blunt-ended. The length and size will vary, but they are all very small compared to Western spurs.
Western riders have many more options when it comes to spurs, and they are often far more elaborate. A common feature on Western spurs is a spinning rowel, sometimes with pointed edges.
Western spurs have also become something of a fashion accessory, and you will see people wearing cowboy boots and spurs who have never even sat on a horse! These spurs are purely ornamental, and are not suitable for riding a horse.
Here are some of the most common types of spurs:
Round End – How To Wear Spurs
Used in English riding, these spurs have a plain shank with a rounded end.
This type is used in both English and Western riding. The end is smooth and rounded, but with a slightly irregular knob shape.
Prince Of Wales – How To Wear Spurs
An English spur, with a flattened end to the shank.
Popular in dressage riding, this spur has a neck that curves upwards.
This spur has a large ball on the end of each spur, and are commonly used in English riding.
Western Rowelled Spurs – How To Wear Spurs
Because a Western rider tends to ride with the legs further away from the horse’s sides, they use spurs with longer shanks. There are many types of Western rowelled spurs, all intended for different equestrian disciplines and riding styles. Some have blunt points, while others are sharp and should only be used by experienced riders.
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How To Wear Spurs On Boots
The way in which spurs are worn will be slightly different according to the type of spur and whether you are riding in traditional or Western cowboy boots. However, the basic principles are the same, and it is just the height of the spur that will differ.
Firstly, have a look at the back of your boots, just above the heel. You should be able to find a small wedge-shaped protuberance – this is the spur wedge. This will be slightly lower on a cowboy boot than on a traditional riding boot. If your boot doesn’t have as spur wedge then don’t panic; you can still wear spurs, but will need to ensure the straps are tight enough to stop them from slipping down over the heel.
The most complicated part of wearing spurs can be putting them on the right way round! If you look at your spurs you will notice that they have a strap that sits under the boot, and one that fastens over the top of the boot. In some spurs this may be one continuous strap, while others have two separate straps.
Place the spurs on the ground with the lower strap at the bottom. Look where the buckle fastening is located – this should be on the outside of the foot. If it is on the inside, swap the spurs around to get them on the right feet.
Next, you need to double-check that the straps have been fastened correctly to the spurs. The point of the spur – the part which makes contact with the horse’s flank – should be angled slightly downwards. If they point upwards then the straps have been put on the wrong way round!
And finally, it is time to put your spurs on! Place the heel band around the back of the foot, sliding the bottom strap under the heel. Make sure it is snugly in place, then fasten the upper strap. It should be tight enough to stop the spur from moving, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable when you move your foot.
Summary – How To Wear Spurs?
So, as we have learned, the correct way to wear spurs is with the heel band sitting just above the spur wedge on your boots. The point of the spur should be angled downwards, to avoid the risk of injury to the horse. The straps should be tight enough to hold the spur securely on the boot, without restricting the movement of the foot.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to wear spurs! Have you ever tried riding a horse with spurs? Or maybe you have a question about the best type of spurs to get? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Which Way Up Do Spurs Go?
Spurs should be worn with the metal shank pointed slightly downwards. To figure out which way this is, look at the spurs from the side and you will see that the shanks are slightly angled in one direction.
How Do You Properly Wear Spurs?
Spurs should be worn so that they sit just above the spur ledge on the back of the boots. Traditionally they are worn with the buckles facing outwards, although some riders prefer to wear spurs with the buckles on the inside of the foot.
Are Spurs Good For A Lazy Horse?
Spurs can be useful for a lazy horse, but they are not a substitute for proper training and schooling. Spurs are worn by a rider to fine-tune the leg aids, rather than to cause pain to the horse.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE