The Selection and Use of Performance Horse Spurs

First developed during the Roman Empire and brought to North America by the Spanish vaqueros, spurs are a popular piece of riding equipment across multiple disciplines and serve as a valuable tool to communicate with your horse when used correctly. Dennis Moreland asked Chris and Sarah Dawson, of Dawson Performance Horses in Perrin, TX, to share advice and expertise on spurs. Follow along in the video below to watch these trainers discuss why they use spurs, how they are used, and how to know what kind of spur is right for you.

It is a common misconception that spurs are solely used to encourage speed on a horse. Instead, with proper leg and ankle control, properly fitted spurs, that are the correct kind of spurs 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.

“What we use our spurs for is to get more refinement out of our horses because we can get more specific with where we place our feet in relation to the body part we’re wanting to move,” explained Sarah. “Really, the speed is coming from our bodies and how fast we ride our horses, and we add the spur for more refinement as we advance those horses along in their training.”

An aspect to consider when using spurs is the length of your spur shank in proportion to your leg length. As Chris explains, people with shorter legs are going to need a shorter shank so the spurs aren’t so close to the horse’s midsection. On the other hand, Chris also describes how a longer legged person will have their feet farther away from the horse. This makes it beneficial for them to ride in spurs with a longer shank, so they don’t have to move their feet so far to make contact with their horse.

Not only is your spur shank something to consider, but also the spur rowel. Sarah explains spur rowel selection is determined by what kind and length of spur shank you have, your leg length and how advanced you are in your riding, including how much control you have over your legs.

After discussing the different components of spurs and how those aspects work together, Chris explains how it all can be applied once you get on your horse. When communicating with a horse using his leg, one thing Chris says he likes to pay attention to is to go in slow with his feet and gradually increase pressure as needed.

“I want to start with my boot top, add my calf pressure, then add my spur, and as soon as that horse moves away, I want to remove the spur pressure but maintain my calf pressure,” explains Chris, “That will teach him to move away from this leg without even having to put your spur on him.”

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 selection. Call or text (817) 312-5305 or email dmtack@vrfmail.com for assistance.

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