Spurs Horse Riding – What Are They And How Are They Used?

Last Updated on March 28, 2022

You might see top-level riders that use spurs horse riding, but have you ever wondered why they use spurs? Let’s find out everything we need to know about spurs for horse riding!

Spurs Horse Riding – What Are Spurs Used For In Horse Riding?

Spurs are used in horse riding as an extension to the leg aids. They are classified as artificial aid, along with whips, martingales, and draw reins.

Spurs are worn in pairs, with one on each of the rider’s legs. They are worn on the back of the rider’s boot, with a metal shank that extends out behind the leg, and held in place with a leather or webbing strap.

What Are Spurs Used For In Horse Riding

There are many different types of spurs, and the differences lie in the shape and style of the metal shank. You can get simple spurs with a short, rounded shank, or elaborate spurs with a cog-like disc on the end of the shanks. In extreme cases, you will see spurs with spikes on them, but these tend to be used less frequently nowadays, and are more of a fashion item.

Read more about Can You Ride A Horse With Cushing’s Disease?

When Are Spurs Used In Horse Riding?

Spurs should never be used on a young or novice horse, and are no substitution for basic training and schooling of the horse. A horse will not understand signals from a rider wearing spurs unless it has first been taught to interpret leg aids. The legs of the rider signal many things to the horse, such as forward movement, sideways movement, increased stride length, and increased impulsion.

If you are riding a horse in competition, check whether the use of spurs is permitted. Many equestrian sports have restrictions on the type of artificial aids that can be used.

There are many different types of spurs, all with their own purpose and function. The main styles of riding where spurs are still worn are Western riding and dressage.

In Western riding, where riders tend to ride with longer stirrups and their legs extended away from the horse’s sides, the spur bridges the gap between the lower leg and the horse’s flank. Again, this helps the rider to send a clear signal to the horse, without having to move the leg excessively.

Silver Prince of Wales Cavalry Spurs with Leather Straps, US Army Spur Ride, Order of The Spur

Spurs Horse Riding

How Are Spurs Horse Riding Used? – Spurs Horse Riding

The aim of spurs is not to hurt the horse or cause injury. They should be used to give a subtle and clear aid to the horse, not to cause pain. Spurs may look cruel, but when used correctly they should not cause any pain to the horse.

When a horse is ridden without spurs, aids are given to the horse with the legs. The inside part of the lower leg, and sometimes the heels, are used to apply pressure to the sides of the horse. The horse is taught to respond to these signals and will move forwards or sideways accordingly.

Spurs are used to fine-tune these signals, allowing the rider to send subtle signals to the horse. This is particularly useful in equestrian sports such as high-level dressage, where the horse can be taught to perform very intricate and controlled movements.

Spurs should never be used by novice or inexperienced riders, as they can potentially cause injury or pain to the horse. They should only ever be used by pressing the shank against the side of the horse, and force should never be used. Kicking a horse whilst wearing spurs is a deliberately cruel act that may see a rider disqualified from the competition.

When a horse is first ridden by a rider with spurs, it is important for the rider to use them gently along with normal leg aids. The feel of spurs will feel very odd to the horse, and it may take him some time to get used to it. Spurs can be used on any type of horse, but they must be trained to accept the feel of a rider with spurs.

When a rider wants to use spurs for the first time, he should do so on a horse that is already trained to accept leg aids from a rider wearing spurs. This will help to prevent any miscommunication between the rider and the horse, and help the rider learn how to use spurs effectively. A good trainer will help a rider learn how to use spurs in a safe and sympathetic manner, helping to get the most out of this useful artificial aid.

Spurs Horse Riding Summary

So, as we have learned, spurs are used to give subtle and clear leg aids to the horse, allowing the rider to fine-tune the movements of the horse. They should only be used by experienced riders, as if used incorrectly they can cause pain to the horse. There are a wide variety of spurs available, all with different purposes and functions.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on spurs horse riding! Do you find spurs are useful when riding your horse? Or maybe you want to use spurs but don’t know where to start? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


Do Horse Riders Still Wear Spurs?

Many people think that spurs are an old-fashioned horse riding accessory, but in fact they are still commonly worn in many horse riding disciplines and sports.

How Does A Spur Work?

A spur works by giving a clearer signal to the horse than the rider's leg, allowing the rider to fine-tune the leg aids and perform more intricate movements on the horse. The aim is not to dig the spur into the horse's flank, but to press it against the skin to send a signal.

What Are Spurs Used For In Horse Riding?

There are many different types of spurs, all with their own purpose and function. The main styles of riding where spurs are still worn are Western riding and dressage.

How Much Are Spurs?

The amount you spend on a set of spurs will depend on the type of spurs you want and the quality of the spurs. A simple set of spurs will be relative cheap, whereas an ornate set of Western spurs will cost a lot more money.

One thing to remember when buying spurs is that the cheapest option will not necessarily be the best. Firstly you need research what type of spurs to use, then find the best quality ones of that type that you can afford. A cheaper set of spurs will potentially rub the horse or be uncomfortable to wear.