One important component of horse riding equipment for serious horse riders is a pair of spurs. Spurs are worn on the heels of horse riding boots to aid you in subtly directing a horse to move forwards or sideways while riding. Spurs can help to confirm riding commands given by hands, voice or legs and are useful in many equestrian disciplines although they must follow certain designs and not constitute animal abuse in any way.
Parts of a Spur
Spurs can have three components. The first is the Yoke that wraps around the heel of your boot. The second is the Shank, which comes out from the Yoke and is the part that you use to touch the horse. The third part is the Rowel that is a revolving wheel or disc, which sometimes attaches to the shank.
Types of Spurs
There are many different types of spurs with each having a different shape and design. Common spurs include Round End spurs, which have a small ball at the end of the shank and are mild, the Prince of Wales, which has a flat end that makes it slightly sharper, and Swan Neck spurs, which have a shank that goes upwards and are common in dressage activities. Different sizes are available for women, men and children.
Choosing the Right Spurs
Spurs come in various shapes and are each for different riding disciplines. Show jumpers generally use a flat style spur and have restrictions on the shank length. Jumpers may prefer to use the Prince of Wales spur. Western riders tend to have decorated rowels that rotate with a longer and wider shank. Dressage riders use a short shank length and usually prefer a Waterford style that has a round ball at the end.
How to Wear
Spurs should sit on the spur rest at the back of your riding boots with the buckle sitting on the outside of the boot. The end of the shank should point downwards slightly.