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Old 12-18-2012, 07:30 PM   #1
flyingcollie
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Default What about spurs ?

Any opinions about spurs out there ?
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:42 PM   #2
Jimmy
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Kinds of spurs, or the use of spurs?
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:26 PM   #3
Maverick_73
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There's a lot of contradiction behind spurs--such as how many points, how big the rowls, what shape, etc., and how "kind" they are to the horse. Let's first explore what spurs are connotated with in peoples minds. I only recently have bought my own spurs, and haven't had a real need for them with a horse as of late.

Spurs to me are simply an aid to help clarify what you're asking of your horse, and a way to help yourself be a little more important to pay attention to rather than the horse way across in the other pasture. I NEVER would gig with my spurs like most people assume, that's not what they're for anyway. Western spur rowels particularly, turn for a reason: the most severe way to use the spurs correctly (in my opinion) is to roll them up the horses side (the same way you would rub your heel into them occasionally to get a change, if need be).

That being said, there's an argument as to the number of points and size of the rowels on spurs (I'm talking about western). The smaller rowels look less severe and "nicer" to the horse, but if you take a four point penny-sized rowel spur, an 8 point dime-sized rowel spur, and a 16 point almost 50 cent piece-rowel spur, and run them up your arm, you'll find that the distribution of weight is more and the severity less in the large aggressive-looking 16 point spur.

I get a lot of odd looks when I say that I got a pair of brand-new spurs all decked out with jinglebobs, and it's hard to explain the use of them to a non-horsey person when they know that I use the type of horsemanship that we all do here in the forum. Responses usually include "but I thought you didn't believe in hurting horses" and "but don't you just kick them with those things to make them go? I thought you were against spurs". The answer is no, I'm against the MISUSE of spurs by all those cowboys and cowgirls that gig their horses to just get speed out of them. Personally if you want your horse to go faster (such as in barrel racing), over-and-under-ing them would yield a helluva lot more than gigging ever will--but I'm not much for gaming anyway.

Hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas!
Mary
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:11 AM   #4
Jimmy
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I don't wear spurs on the colts. For one thing, I don't want to get my ass bucked off. But the lazier they are, the more I don't like to. I don't like a horse to start twitching their tail. So I might slap my leg, kiss, slap their ass with the tail of a macarty or my rope, or get him to follow another horse at first.
I don't use spurs to go. Spurs are better for lateral work. But I do feel every horse needs to know about spurs. In the higher levels of dressage, they are mandatory. Hard to imagine a cavalry man, or a Vaquero, riding with no spurs. Its a necessary part of the whole package.
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:59 AM   #5
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I didn't ride with spurs for a number of years when I was young. I was taught early on that I shouldn't ride with spurs until I was able to isolate my seat. I wanted to be able to refine my own cues before I started asking a horse for advanced moves by using my spurs. I worked until I minimized the unintentional movements of bouncing around on the horses back before I started using spurs. Just as with anything with a horse, it isn't the spurs that are evil. It is the person who uses them incorrectly that makes them harmful.

The old working vaquero's and buckaroos were very proud of there spurs. I have a few old spurs and they are beautiful; large conchas, heel chains, immaculate silver work, and large rowels. The craftsmanship that was put into spurs has been lost to many. There are still a few out there who know how to make a quality spur, but with new technologies it is too easy to manufacture a spur off of an assembly line and people don't want to spend the money for the good ones. In the old days the Vaquero's and buckaroos would often save up to purchase a very nice set of spurs, most of them typically only had one pair because of the expense. But the pair they had, was worn everywhere. Some of the early Dons in California had rowels that were so big on there spurs that they had to be put on after they mounted there horse, and taken off before they could walk anywhere. It isn't the size of the rowel that makes the spur more severe, instead it is the distance between the points. They wore there spurs low on the heel and loose, some of them would place a nail in the base of the heel of there boot to allow there spurs to hang.

The problem today is that poor riding has made riders use spurs to bump and motivate a horse. They bump, bump, bump as they ride, it doesn't take too long before that horse becomes dead sided and requires that cue to do anything. So many riders today rely on there spurs, and some use them as a "short cut" to making a better horse. The end result of this type of riding is to get a horse that is feather light. In order to preserve the lightness the cues have to be spot on. Spurs were used for finesse, they were a guide while teaching. They weren't used like today if a situation arose where they needed to get the job done quickly or to "define" a signal. Our horses today have been domesticated and in a lot of ways tolerate the riding that we put them under. The old Vaquero's and Buckaroo's rode some pretty rank horses, if they had used there spurs the way many do today they wouldn't have had a job.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:01 PM   #6
flyingcollie
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Thanks for posting, folks. That's the kind of thoughts I was looking for.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:27 AM   #7
Rex Easley
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Spurs are very important to me. I try to never ride without them unless it is the first ride on a colt. I seldom ever use a spur but when I do, it is usually because my horse has stopped looking for my signals. I use my spurs only to bring my horse back to me mentally. I want my horse to be looking for my small signals all the time and I will use a spur only if my horse has ignored all my signals. I like large rowels with few points. I like a rowel that is loose on the shank so as to be able to wobble side to side. I like an old style rowel that was made in the forge, tapered and work hardend when cool. This creates a ring in the rowel like a chime or a bell. The ring and wobble allow for a neat signal before I have to uses it. I can wiggle my foot side to side and it will give a loud DING, DING, DING! before I ever need to set it on my horse. I try not to press my horse with spurs. I usually will ding it a few times and then give it a quick rowel up the side. The rowel will give a loud long ring, pretty soon the horses will understand these signals and you will never have to use a spur.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:28 AM   #8
flyingcollie
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Thanks for posting that, Rex. It makes a lot of sense. Where can you go to get spurs like that ?
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:02 AM   #9
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I hate to stereotype, but almost all of the spurs you will see in any tack store are made of stainless steel overseas. But there are a few custom spur makers out there who will make them by hand in the forge. You only need one set, so save up and get a nice custom pair. Or if you are lucky you can sometimes find a gem on ebay.
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:34 AM   #10
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Thought I would bring this discussion back up to the top. I think spurs are a very overlooked piece of equipment to many these days. The old timers used to value the spur as a tool of the trade similar to the bits they used. I once walked into a well respected horseman's saddle room held within the room were very nice saddles, walls of hackamores, tapadaros, blankets, traditional bits, and along the wall he had a number of spurs on display. I quipped "oh neat, you like to collect old spurs" to which he responded "I don't collect anything, all of those have a purpose and a horse" We spent nearly half an hour breaking down the use of each spur shape, it's rowel, and shank. The shorter the shank the more sensitive the horse. For horses that were more dead to the leg, he used a longer shank. The spurs were used to wake the horse up a bit after he wasn't paying attention to his legs. The spurs are not for forward impulsion. He first used his leg and if the horse didn't respond well enough he would use the spur. The spur itself wasn't meant to be a "cue" but more a signal to respond to the leg that he had used prior to using the spur. The rowels also have a lot to do with the sensitivity of the horse and desired response. The way this man rode, he always used a straight shank on his spurs and had a small nail placed in each of his boots to hang the spurs on. The other thing this man liked was very loose rowels on the shank. This allowed the rowels to "ping" from side to side and create a pre-signal this is what Rex Easley was talking about in his post earlier. He taught me to "ring, ring, ring, the spurs then roll" pretty soon you never would need to roll or touch your horse with the spur, just ring the phone and your horse would pick up.

A lot of riders focus a lot on the size of the rowel for the aggressiveness but the size of the rowel can also change the angle and point on the horse where you make contact. Some horses have smaller barrels and may require a drop shank, or if your personal leg and in seam length is shorter you could also use a drop shank. The opposite can be true, if you have a longer leg and are riding a horse with a smaller barrel a rise in the shank may be appropriate. Or a drop shank with a larger rowel to put a rise in your contact point. These are things to think about when selecting a spur or rowel combination.

We are all working toward lightness with our horses, trying to work out all of the braces. I have seen a lot of horses become dead legged because riders are unwilling to use spurs. It is a familiar scene to see someone come up to a gate and as they work to move the horse over they begin to work there leg, then they start to tap, and pretty soon they use more force with the heel of there boot. The problem is the horse then starts to develop a brace. Instead of yielding to the leg they stick there ribs out to protect themselves and brace against the leg. This makes them "dull" and who can blame them. I try to use a 1, 2, 3 approach by asking with my leg, if they don't respond, I press the spur, and the final step is to roll the spur up the side. You don't want to overuse your spurs but if done correctly you will actually remove braces and create a very light horse. Eventually when a rider comes up to the gate they will only need to lightly press with there leg and the horse will yield away instead of bracing.
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