Western Spurs are spurs and then some. Based on the traditional Prince of Wales design, Western Spurs are a reflection of the pinpoint precision of western riding and the different disciplines within that and also the showmanship that western riders like to have reflected in their equipment. Spurs give a pinpoint precision aid, they are a sophisticated device designed to generate a quick response from the horse.
Western spurs are a key part of western riding gear, turnout is incomplete without a pair of spurs. They are usually pretty ornate and most commonly silver steel overlaid with brass. A key piece of equipment to communicate between rider and horse, the spur is a tool for adding definition to a command or conveying a more specific instruction. The rowel is the part of the spur which comes into contact with the horse’s side and on a Western Spur, the rowel is usually a wheel with a set number of teeth but it can be as simple as a smooth ball. Rowels with numerous teeth which are sited quite close together are generally gentler than a rowel with teeth further apart and which send quite a strong and specific message. The shank of the spur is the two long arms which sit either side of the rider’s boot. The best length of shank is usually dictated by the length of the rider’s leg and the conformation of the horse’s barrel. A long shank can make it easier and quicker to make contact with the horse’s side allowing the rider to remain more still in the saddle. A shorter shank would generally minimise the influence of the spurs.
Choose your spur based on the type of event. Spurs usually have a name which reflects the chosen western event such as cutter, roping or stockman and this should indicate the design of the spur and the purpose for which it is needed. The rider’s ability is also relevant and the conformation of the horse. You should if possible try the spurs on the intended boots first to make sure they fit. Additionally different and spare rowels can be purchased and fitted as can spur straps and chains.