An Easy Guide to Changing Your Own Spur Rowels

From time to time, you may find it necessary to change the rowels in your spurs to better fit a particular horse or to get more refinement from a horse as it advances along in its training. It’s also important to change rowels when they start to wear and the holes in the rowels widen, says Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack. When the diameter of the hole gets larger, the rowel will turn at an angle and this will cause it to wear on the inside of your shank and damage the shank. Follow along in the video to learn how to change the rowels in your spurs with just a few simple steps and a file, anvil, metal rivet spacer with slot and a hammer.

To remove the old rowel, you first need to grind the end of the rivet on the inside of the spur shank until it’s level with the shank. A fine file works well for this if you don’t have a belt sander. Be careful not to go too far and damage the shank.

Next, put a mark in the middle of the rivet so you can easily see where to place a punch tool to punch the rivet out of the spur. Place the spur shank over a hole in an anvil or other flat piece of steel. Be sure the hole is approximately the same size as the rivet head, so the spur won’t move as you remove the rivet. Hammer the punch until the rivet is free of the spur. Check for burrs on the inside of the slot in the shank. Remove any burrs that formed with a file or sanding belt.

To install the new rowel, place it in the slot in the shank and place a rivet through the hole, with the cap to the outside. The rivet you use should be slightly smaller in diameter than the holes in both the shanks and rowels and turn freely inside both holes. It’s easier to set the rivet if you remove any excess length in the rivet with a file or sanding belt. There should be approximately 1/8 inch of the rivet remaining on the inside of the shank after the excess is removed.

When you set the rivet to secure the rowel, the shank may bend slightly and lock the rowel against the shank. To prevent this, slide a narrow piece of slotted sheet metal or other similar hard flat metal (pallet banding works well) between the inside of the shank and the outside of the rowel on one side of the rowel. Place the spur shank on an anvil or other hard flat surface and set the rivet. A ball peen hammer works well for this. Start by hitting it with the flat side of the hammer straight down from the top to flatten it out, then use the ball side to hit the edges of the rivet in a circular pattern to mushroom it out.

Remove the spacer and test the rowel in both directions to see that it moves freely. If it doesn’t move freely, you may have bent the shank when you peened the rivet. You will need to start again and check the sides of the shank at the slot to make certain they are straight.

The last step is to check the rivet end for sharp edges and gently file the rivet end until it’s smooth to the touch. It should remain slightly above the plane of the shank.

Correctly fitted spurs with the right rowels for your riding discipline and experience level, allow you to fine tune the cues you give to your horse. When correctly given, spurs make a light cue easier for the horse to understand and respond successfully to.

Dennis Moreland Tack spurs are custom built to your personal specifications with sizes and styles to fit everyone. You choose the band size and width to fit your boots, the length and curve of the shank, and one of eight types of rowels. We are happy to assist you with your spur and rowel selection. Email or call 817-312-5305 for assistance.

We’re a full-line handmade tack manufacturer and we’re here to help you!