Many more experienced riders choose to use spurs when riding. Spurs are a metal tool designed to wear around the heel of a riding boot. They are used as an aid to direct the horse, much like a riding crop. There are many different kinds of spurs from small, pony spurs to longer, even 2 inch long spurs. However, many wonder if spurs hurt the horse, and we will look at the matter a bit more in this article.
What are spurs used for?
Spurs are made to help the rider to direct the horse better. Mainly, riding spurs make the horse react to smaller aids, thus making riding easier. For instance, many slow horses require the help of a spur or a riding crop to keep their pace. Sometimes, riders choose to use both spurs and a riding crop.
Spurs are by no means a punishment, nor should they ever be used as such. On the contrary: the purpose is to make the horse react to smaller, more invisible aids.
In fact, spurs (or fake spurs) are mandatory at dressage shows. In showjumping, the rider can choose to use spurs or leave them out. Regardless, when attending horse shows, there are rules and regulations when it comes to the use of spurs and spurs types.
Do spurs hurt the horse?
Frankly put, spurs do not hurt the horse if they are used correctly. Spurs should never be used by an inexperienced rider: in order to use spurs, you have to be experienced enough to be able to control your leg and not squeeze the horse's sides for support.
If used wrong, spurs can cause the skin to scratch, and in some cases, even bleed a little bit. Sometimes, this is not due to the rider's inability to use spurs correctly, but simply due to the horse's sensitive skin.
Choose your spurs correctly
There are many types of spurs on the market, ranging from ballpoint spurs to Prince of Wales and everything in between. The smaller and softer the spurs are, the gentler they are to the horse. Some horses, however, require a little bit more get up and go, so for them, longer Prince of Wales spurs, for instance, may be a great option.
If you do not know what kind of spurs you should get, you can always consult your trainer. Additionally, a customer representative at a tack store might be able to point you in the right direction.
What kind of spurs are allowed at shows?
Not all spurs are allowed at horse shows. Also, the allowed spurs per discipline vary. For instance, spurs that are allowed at showjumping shows are different from ones that are allowed at dressage.
Also, another noteworthy point is that pony riders are not allowed to use spurs that are more than 15mm in length.
Remember to check the allowed spurs in the rules and regulations of your national equestrian federation or the FEI.
How to use spurs correctly?
When spurs are used correctly, they do not hurt the horse. The video below introduces excellent tips for using spurs correctly.
Have you seen Ophena stirrups yet?
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