how to wear spurs

How to Wear Spurs: A Complete Guide for Equestrians

by | May 30, 2023 | Equine Tack, Riding Spurs

I’m excited to share a crucial piece of information that can elevate your horse riding skills, regardless of your age or expertise. Have you ever noticed those pointy accessories at the heels of professional riders and wondered what they are? These are called spurs, and they serve a significant purpose in equestrian activities. However, it’s essential to know not just what they are, but also how to use them correctly.

Like many riders, when I first came across spurs, I was intrigued, but admittedly a little confused. They seemed like a puzzling contraption, both in terms of their purpose and their fitting. However, with time and experience, I came to understand their true value and learned how to use them effectively. Now, I’m here to help you traverse this learning curve much more smoothly.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the fascinating history of spurs, delve into their function in contemporary equestrian activities, and explore the various types of spurs available. I’ll provide you with clear, step-by-step instructions on fitting and wearing spurs properly, and point out common mistakes you should avoid. We’ll also discuss crucial factors to consider when purchasing your first pair of spurs.

Whether you’re an aspiring horse rider or a seasoned equestrian, this guide will equip you with essential knowledge about this often overlooked yet integral component of horse riding equipment. Remember, becoming proficient in using spurs, like any aspect of equestrianism, requires patience, practice, and a respect for your horse’s comfort and wellbeing. So saddle up, and let’s embark on this enlightening journey together!

History and Function of Spurs

Let’s start our journey by exploring the history and evolution of spurs. Did you know, spurs are not some new fancy invention, but they have been around for a long time, like thousands of years kind of long? Early riders would attach bone or wood to their feet to encourage their horses to move faster or change direction. As time went by, spurs started being made from iron and bronze, and then eventually, from the shiny silver and stainless steel we see today. They even had some pretty fancy designs. Think about it like how your phone covers change over time, but for spurs!

I remember when I was younger and found an old pair of spurs at a garage sale. They looked so different from the ones I’d seen modern riders wear. It made me realize just how much these little tools had changed and evolved over the centuries, adapting to the needs of riders and the comfort of horses.

So, why do we still use spurs today, you ask? Good question! The main purpose of spurs in modern equestrian activities isn’t to prod or poke our horses, but to guide them. It’s like when you nudge a friend’s arm to point out something cool, but for horses. Spurs are a way for us to communicate with our horses, giving them subtle hints about speed, direction, and more.

For instance, when I first started learning to ride, I had a horse named Buttercup who was pretty stubborn. Sometimes, she liked to go her own way. That’s when my trainer taught me to use spurs. With just a little touch, I could tell Buttercup what I wanted her to do without pulling at her reins or raising my voice.

Remember, it’s not about using force, but about giving gentle signals. Think of spurs as a whisper to your horse’s side, not a shout.

Types of Spurs

Have you ever gone to a shoe store and seen all the different types of shoes? Running shoes, sandals, boots, and more, each designed for a specific purpose. Well, just like shoes, there are also different types of spurs, each with their unique features and uses. Fascinating, right?

When I first stepped into a tack shop to buy my spurs, I was amazed at the variety. It felt a bit like visiting a candy store, except instead of chocolates and lollipops, it was spurs! There were ones with short necks, ones with long necks, some with rounded ends, and others with tiny wheels called rowels. It was quite the collection!

So, let’s dive a bit deeper into these different types. The first one is a ‘Prince of Wales’ spur. It’s one of the simplest types, with a short, straight neck and no rowel. Think of it as the classic white tennis shoe of spurs, a good all-rounder and perfect for beginners. I used these when I first started riding, and they were a great way to learn the basics of using spurs without worrying about hurting my horse.

Next, we have ‘Rowel’ spurs. Remember those tiny wheels I mentioned earlier? That’s a rowel! These spurs are a bit like those fancy basketball shoes with all the extra features. The rowel spins when it touches the horse, providing a different kind of touch compared to the Prince of Wales spurs. They can come in different sizes and shapes, and some riders prefer them because they can be softer on the horse’s side.

Finally, we have ‘Humane’ or ‘Ball’ spurs. They have a small ball at the end of the neck that rolls when it touches the horse’s side. Imagine it like those comfy memory foam slippers, they’re designed to be extra gentle on your horse.

Choosing the right type of spur depends on a few things like your riding style, your horse’s sensitivity, and your level of expertise. Just remember, no matter what type of spur you choose, the key is to use them gently and responsibly. After all, we’re using them to communicate with our horse friends, not to boss them around!

How to Properly Fit and Wear Spurs

Just like a shoe doesn’t do much good if it doesn’t fit right, the same goes for spurs. Let’s walk through how to fit and wear spurs, and I’ll share some tips to help you avoid common mistakes. It’s kind of like learning to tie your shoelaces, it might seem tricky at first, but with practice, it’ll become second nature.

So, the first step is getting the spur in the right place. When I got my first pair, I remember thinking they were supposed to go way down on my heel. Boy, was I wrong! Spurs should sit in the middle of the back of your boot, where the heel starts to curve upward. They should be tight enough that they don’t move around when you walk, but loose enough that you can slide a finger between the spur and your boot.

Next, you want to adjust the spur straps. The buckles should be on top of your foot, not on the side. Picture how you buckle a belt, it’s the same idea here. This is where personal comfort comes in. Make sure they’re not too tight; you don’t want to cut off your circulation!

One common mistake to avoid is pointing your toes out when riding, which can unintentionally poke the horse. I remember doing this when I was just getting started. My trainer called it the “duck foot” mistake. You want to keep your toes pointed forward, not to the side.

As for how to use spurs properly, think of it like giving your horse a friendly tap on the shoulder. It’s not meant to be a hard poke or a jab. This is why spurs don’t harm horses when used correctly. They’re a communication tool, not a weapon.

If you’re still feeling unsure, don’t worry. There’s a fantastic video that I found super helpful when I was learning. It covers everything we’ve talked about, and it really helped me understand how and why to use spurs without hurting my horse.

Remember, practice makes perfect. And if you’re ever in doubt, ask for help. Riding is a community, and there’s always someone willing to lend a hand, or in this case, a spur!

Buying Guide for Spurs

When purchasing spurs, there are a few things to consider: the material they’re made from, their size, and their type. Remember those Prince of Wales, Rowel, and Humane spurs we talked about? Well, they all come into play here.

I’d like to share some recommendations to get you started.

For Rowel Spurs, for men, I suggest the ‘Western SS Double Band 10pt Mens Spurs‘. They’re made from high-quality stainless steel and have an engraved design which looks really cool. For women, the ‘Western SS 10pt Spurs‘ are a great choice. They have a classic, simple design, also in stainless steel.

If you’re interested in Bumper Spurs, you can consider the ‘Tough1 SS Sidewinder Bumper Spurs‘ for men and the ‘Tough1 AT Sidewinder Bumper Spurs‘ for women. They’re excellent because they allow you to control your horse without rotating your foot. Plus, they have a pretty neat antique brown band!

And of course, you’ll need a spur strap to keep your spurs in place. The ‘Western Latigo Leather Straight Spur Straps‘ are unisex and made from durable latigo leather. They’ve got these shiny nickel-plated buckles that are a nice touch. For the ladies, there’s the stylish ‘Weaver Turq Cross Ladies Tur Bead Flor Spur Straps‘ with turquoise beaded inlays. Isn’t that just fabulous?

Last but not least, we have the Prince of Wales Spurs. The ‘Silver Prince of Wales Cavalry Spurs with Leather Straps‘ are a good option for everyone. It’s a two-for-one deal with the leather straps included!

Remember that your choice will depend on your level of expertise and your horse’s sensitivity. If you’re a beginner, the Prince of Wales spurs could be a great start. For more experienced riders or those with sensitive horses, the Humane or Bumper spurs might be better.

Buying your first pair of spurs is a milestone in your equestrian journey. Make sure to take your time, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re becoming part of a long tradition of equestrians, and that’s something to be proud of! Ready to go shopping? Onward to the next part of our journey!


Wow, can you believe we’ve reached the end of our spur-tacular journey? We’ve traveled through the history of spurs, discovered different types, learned how to fit and wear them, and even picked out some cool ones to buy. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I did!

So, let’s jog our memory a bit. We learned that choosing the right spur is just as important as how you use it. Just like you wouldn’t wear your flip-flops to a soccer game, picking the right spur for you and your horse is crucial. Remember, spurs should fit comfortably on your boots, and the straps should secure them without cutting off your circulation. And most importantly, always use them gently to give subtle signals to your horse.

I’ll let you in on a little secret from my horse riding days. When I first started using spurs, I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to accidentally hurt my horse. But with patience, practice, and a lot of help from my trainers and fellow riders, I learned to use them correctly. And guess what? You can do it too!

Spurs are more than just a piece of equestrian equipment. They’re a tool of communication, a symbol of a rider’s skill, and a part of the deep and rich history of horse riding. As we move forward in our equestrian journey, it’s our responsibility to use them appropriately and kindly, always considering the comfort of our horse friends.

As you embark on your adventure with spurs, remember that every great rider was once where you are now – at the start, eager to learn, and full of questions. So be patient, be persistent, and always be kind to your horse. You’re part of a fantastic community of equestrians, and we’re all cheering you on.

And so, as we reach the end of this guide, my final piece of advice is this: ride with joy, guide with gentleness, and spur with wisdom. Happy riding, my friends!

Before we wrap up, I’d love to hear from you. What type of spurs are you considering for your equestrian journey, and why? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. We’re all part of this wonderful horse-riding community, and your insights could help other riders too!

About The Author

<a href="" target="_self">Equiniction Team</a>

Equiniction Team

We are a group of passionate riders, trainers, and horse owners who are dedicated to sharing our love and knowledge of all things equine. Whether you are a seasoned pro or just starting out on your equestrian journey, we have something for everyone. From training and care tips to the latest in equine news and events, we are your one-stop resource for all things horse-related. So come along for the ride and join our community of horse lovers today!

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