How to Choose the Right Riding Spurs

Riding spurs have a long, storied history in horsemanship. Even though you may associate riding spurs with cowboys of the wild West, the earliest known use dates to the Celts in the fifth century B.C.

riding spurs

Riding spurs are used in many different equestrian disciplines and sports as an aid in directing the horse’s movements. What size and style are right for you and your horse?

The Anatomy of Riding Spurs

Every pair of riding spurs has three main parts:

  • Yoke

This is the portion of the spur that encircles the rider’s heel, attaching the rest of the device to the back of the riding boot. Yokes come in a variety of sizes based on boot size. It’s sometimes called the heel band or the branch.

  • Shank

This is the arm that extends from the back of the heel, supporting the rowel. It is sometimes referred to as the neck.

The length of the shank is extremely important. Riders with longer legs may need a longer shank with a significant curvature in order to reach the horse’s side, but it depends on the positioning of the heel. If the rider can easily feel the horse’s side, a short shank will do.

  • Rowel

The rowel is a small, rotating wheel that’s attached to the end of the shank. Some rowels have fewer teeth with more space in between each one. This type of rowel can prompt a fast response from a horse, communicating urgency from the rider. A rowel with more teeth situated closer together sends a gentler message — the best option for a sensitive horse.

For Western Riders

When you’re riding in a Western saddle, your leg is farther forward and your feet are farther away from the horse. For this reason, it’s likely you will need riding spurs with longer shanks to reach the horse’s barrel.

Do You Need a Strap?

A spur strap anchors the entire spur securely to the riding boot. You can purchase either a leather or synthetic strap. Western leather spur straps are usually beautifully designed and are a gorgeous addition to the rider’s attire. Most riders use spur straps, unless the yoke is so tight that a strap is not needed.

Choosing Your Pair

Climb into your saddle and see how far away your heel is from the horse’s barrel. Make sure you are in the correct riding position. When you try on a pair of spurs, wear the boots you intend to ride with so you can ensure a proper fit.

Trust Frontier Trailers & Roping Supply for high-quality leather tack and accessories, including riding spurs in a range of designs and sizes. Visit our store or shop online to find the pair that suits you best.