Wearing Spurs In Public – Should You Do It?

Last Updated on December 21, 2022

The topic of wearing spurs in public is often hotly debated, with some opinions stating that you should never do it, while others feel it is ok in certain circumstances. If you wear spurs in public make sure you prepare for strange looks and curious questions. And if you decide to go ahead, ensure you put your spurs on correctly.

Wearing Spurs In Public

If you work on a ranch and live in your cowboy boots, likely, your spurs are always on your boots. When making a trip into town, changing your boots and taking off your spurs seems like a hassle, if you plan on heading back to the ranch. Wearing spurs in public in this instance is not likely to draw too much attention, especially if you live in an area where ranchers spend time around town in their work gear.

In other circumstances wearing spurs in public might draw unwanted attention. Some people might think you are doing it just for show. At competitions, the general opinion about walking around with spurs hours before you compete is that it is tacky.

Wearing Spurs In Public

Some special events might be suitable for wearing spurs. One such event is a western-themed wedding. This is a great opportunity to show off your best cowboy boots and custom spurs. Wearing spurs to a wedding is a great potential conversion starter and is unlikely to draw any negativity.

Strange Laws About Wearing Spurs in Public

Believe it or not, some regions have some pretty strange laws regarding wearing spurs in public. Arizona has a law that says cowboys can’t walk through a hotel lobby wearing spurs. However, this is such an unusual law it is unlikely the hotel staff even know about it, so we reckon you won’t run into any problems.

In Oklahoma, if it takes your fancy, it’s safe to wear your spurs in bed, but first, you must remove your boots, as this is against the law.

During the 14th century, a knight had to remove his spurs before entering a church. If he failed to do so, he had to pay a fine. Members of the clergy could not wear spurs at any time. A disgraced knight suffered humiliation in public by having the ends of his spurs cut off.

Tough 1 Kelly Silver Star Jingle Bob Spurs, Chrome Plated

How To Wear Spurs

Whether you leave your spurs on after working on the ranch or if you want to make a fashion statement, wearing spurs in public still requires putting them on correctly.

The first thing to consider is the style of spurs you want to wear. Elaborately designed spurs can make a statement about your status or be the focal point of your outfit.

Once you’ve picked the spurs you want to wear the next step is to choose some great western boots. Give them fresh polish to complete your outfit.

When you put on spurs, slip them over the back of your heel with the lower part of the strap under your foot, in front of your boot heel. The spur itself should point down or straight out. If it points up, the spur is upside down. 

The spur strap points out, away from your body. When the spur is in the correct position, on the right foot, do up the buckle. If your boots have spur ledges, make sure the spur is resting on top of them.

Can You Customize the Spurs

To show off your personality, you can customize spurs to your taste. This could be for fashion spurs or spurs you actually use for competitions or even working on the ranch. The simplest way to customize spurs is to engrave your initials on them.

If you want to go all out, you can request your own designs engraved into the spur shanks. Some people even like to design the shape of the spur shank, to make them extra special. However, fully customized spurs don’t come cheap, with some costing thousands.

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History Of Spurs

Spurs are not new to the horse world. The earliest known spurs date back centuries, pre-dating the 2nd century BC. It is believed that early spurs were made from wood or bone. In the 2nd century BC, we see the first metal spurs. Archeologists digging in Etruscan tombs found spurs made from bronze.

Today’s western spurs contain a moving rowel. This spur design originated in 10th-century Spain or France, but the first designs did not rotate. Rowels spurs were definitely present in England by the 13th century. Historians state that Henry III’s seal includes rowel spurs. The middle ages brought a period of chivalry and armored knights. 

History Of Spurs

During this time, spurs represented a man’s rank and were taken seriously. Successful knights earned the right to wear expensive spurs made from gold. Lower-ranked men, such as esquires, were allowed to wear silver spurs, while a page wore tin spurs.

The distinction in spurs during this time meant a man’s rank was easily identifiable. All you had to do was look at his spurs, regardless of what else she wore. The saying ‘earn your spurs’ comes from this period in history. 

In the 14th century, there was even a Guild of Spur Makers in Paris. Qualifying as a master craftsman in spur-making was an honored position. One had to train as an apprentice for six years, and a master craftsman was only allowed one apprentice at a time. Modern western spurs stem from the elaborate Spanish spurs of the past.

Is it Illegal to Wear Spurs in Public?

In the past, there were some strange laws surrounding when you could and couldn’t wear spurs. Some of these laws remain to this day, but it is highly unlikely that they would be enforced.

In Oklahoma, it is legal to wear spurs in bed, but you must remove your boots first. How strange!

Arizona still has a law that states that spurs must not be worn in a hotel lobby. Many people do not know about this law, and are most likely breaking the law without realizing it!

Can you wear spurs to school?

Whether you can wear spurs to school will depend on your school’s dress code, but it is unlikely to be permitted in the vast majority of schools. Spurs are considered to be an accessory, and would not normally be worn in a school environment.

So, no matter how much you love your spurs as a fashion accessory, it is probably a good idea to leave them at home!

Are Spurs Allowed in Horse Racing?

Whether spurs are allowed in horse racing depends on the rules of the horse racing authority in each country, and the type of racing that is taking place. For example, in Australia, it is permitted to wear spurs in horse racing, and western riders who participate in barrel racing may also be allowed to wear spurs.

In most types of horse racing, even if spurs were permitted the riders would not choose to wear them. This is because the riding style of horse racing jockeys, with very short stirrups, means that the spurs would have little effect on the horse.

Instead of spurs, it is normal for jockeys to carry a whip. There are rules on how often the jockey can use the whip and how it is used, to prevent racehorses from being unnecessarily beaten.

How to Measure Cowboy Spurs?

A good set of cowboy spurs will fit snugly to your boot, but not be so tight that they pinch into your foot. When you get the right fit of cowboy spurs, they should be so comfortable that you barely notice you are wearing them!

When choosing the right size of cowboy spur, you need to use your shoe size as a guide. There are four size categories of cowboy spurs: men, ladies, youth, and children.

Men’s spurs will fit male shoe sizes 6-13, and also ladies’ shoe sizes 7-12. The next size down fits ladies’ shoe sizes 5-10, and youth spurs will fit child shoe sizes 7-13. The smallest spurs are children’s, which fit child shoe sizes 5-12.

If you are investing in a custom-made set of spurs, the manufacturer will normally request a template to make them the perfect size. To do this, bend a piece of wire around the heel of your boot at the point where the spur would sit. Place the wire on a piece of paper and outline.


At the end of the day wearing spurs in public is a personal choice. If you are comfortable in yourself, then we say go for it, who cares if someone else doesn’t like it? Adding spurs to your outfit is a fun fashion statement.

Coming off the ranch without removing your spurs is sometimes just practical. Time can be tight, and you just don’t have a few spare minutes to change your clothes to run an errand. It doesn’t really matter what other people’s opinions are about wearing spurs if it makes you happy.

Can you wear spurs as fashion?

Cowboy boots were originally intended for use on a horseback. But today they’re more about fashion than work. This is not the case for spurs, although, you certainly can wear spurs as a fashion only. 
You can find different spur styles, from varying neck length to various rowel designs. They come in a wide variety of materials. There are spurs with fancy decorative details such as silver, bronze, and gold. Spurs are often worn as part of Western-style apparel. For example, men may wear a cowboy hat and a pair of spurs as part of their formal wear.

Are spurs supposed to be tight?

Spurs are a very popular piece of riding equipment, but they are only one aspect of your overall equestrian education. Proper use of them is critical to properly performing a number of different activities, including driving a horse, training and riding a horse.
They should fit just right, like a glove. If they’re too loose, they’ll fall off; if they’re too tight, they won’t flex. They should not be so loose that they fall down below the spur ledge onto your heel bases. On the other hand, they shouldn’t be so tight that they won’t move up and down at all.

Which are the kindest spurs?

The kindest type of spurs are round end spurs. They are normally made of either plastic or metal, with the shanks rounded at the end. That makes them kinder to use as they are not sharp and are therefore good for riders just starting out with spurs and for sensitive horses.
However, because they are not sharp, they are also much less effective than a spur with an edge. So if you are a more experienced rider, you may prefer to use a sharp-ended spur. In fact, you may wish to consider using both types of spur, depending on the type of training and your horse’s temperament.

When should you wear spurs?

Spurs are commonly used by riders as they want their horse to react faster than it normally would. Spurs help the horse respond more quickly to a rider’s command by making the horse feel more connected to it’s rider.
Why and when should you use spurs? Spurs are used primarily to improve a horse’s speed and response. They are also used as a control device for the rider. Horses naturally get bored with the same leg being tapped by a rider, so spurs are used to encourage a horse to move forward faster. Spurs are also used for precision.

Is it cruel to use spurs?

Tack is a general term for the various bits of equipment used in horse riding. In a professional horse show, it includes shoes, saddles, bridles, etc. Spurs are a particular type of tack used in dressage and other equestrian disciplines. Spurs are used to make horses more responsive to aids, and are certainly not meant as a punishment nor should be ever used as such. Spurs help us to get more out of our horses and help them to behave better by being responsive to more subtle movements and cues.