I've known spurs longer than I've known stirrups.

In old cowboy movies (or in my case, the animation Spirit) the bad guys always ask their horses to run off by slapping them in the sides with their legs. Often, there is a close-up camera shot of their cowboy-boot-clad heels, and resting on the heels, sticking out of the stirrups, are a pair of shiny, spiky spurs. When I was younger, I hated spurs. I thought they were cruel and unusual punishment - illegal by the 8th amendment.

Now, though, I know lots of people who use spurs. Not me (Cal would buck me off, I think), but lots of my friends. Apparently, since horses respond better to leg contact than rein contact, they're just as good of a supplement as a crop - maybe better. In English riding, most of the time they are just silver boot add-ons, instead of full-on side-stabbing Western spurs like in the movies. I now know that spurs are okay to use - most of the time. I wondered what TE readers thought, though, so I decided to ask:


"Sometimes you ride a horse that needs an extra push."
"There is absolutely no problem with using spurs in a lesson. It's only bad when you buy a pair that is too sharp and they start to injure the horse."
"The only reason people have a problem with spurs is because they see people using them to kick horses and urge them on. If used correctly, spurs shouldn't be painful or cruel at all. A good rider will only use them when needed and keep leg contact to squeezing, not kicking."


"I personally feel like spurs should only be used at shows. In lessons, you have a longer amount of time, so you shouldn't need to rush transitions like you do in the show ring."
"If you're really a good rider, you should be able to get your horse going without the need of something like that."
"I see riders overusing spurs all the time. I've grown to hate them because only certain horses need them! You can't wear them on each horse you ride because some horses don't respond well to them!"
Turns out, those cowboy spurs were just exaggerations of the real thing. In truth, spurs are just a simple aid to help riders get their horses going, and most readers agree that they're okay to use. If only they had the opposite of spurs - things to slow down my  - maybe a rod that I could put on the toe of my boot instead? Ah, well. I'll keep dreaming

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