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Are you an English rider who wants to improve their riding and aids? Spurs, when used carefully, can be an excellent tool for encouraging your horse. Learn how they compare to Western spurs, the types of spurs, and more below! 

What Are English Riding Spurs? 

English riding spurs are an aid that helps support the leg. Spurs shouldn’t be your main aid, but they can be helpful when it comes to driving a sluggish horse forward. They’re usually made of stainless steel and have two parts: the spur itself, and the spur straps. 

English Spurs vs Western Spurs

When people think of spurs, they usually think of cowboys and Western riding. Spurs aren’t just for Western riders, though. Many English riders also use spurs. English spurs are normally much smaller and more subtle than their Western counterparts. Western spurs are normally highly decorated and rowelled, whereas English spurs are usually not rowelled, and don’t feature loud decorations. Some may have tiny rhinestones or horseshoe designs, but that’s about it. 

English spurs should fit around your boot ankle, rather than just above the heel like Western spurs. 

An English rider with spurs

Different Types of English Spurs

English spurs are certainly not as large and flashy as Western spurs. They come in a variety of different types. There’s no one-size-fits-all spur for every horse and rider. Consider factors like the amount of leg pressure you use and the sensitivity of your horse when choosing the right spur for you. 

Blunt English Spurs

Blunt English spurs, also known as “Prince of Wales” spurs, have blunt edges. They offer enough motivation to the horse without being painful. 

Round English Spurs

Just like their name, round English spurs have a rounded edge.These spurs are normally made of stainless steel.The rounded ends are not sharp so they are not as uncomfortable on the horse as rowelled spurs. 

Rowelled English Spurs

Rowelled spurs include a small spinning disc with angular edges. Note that this type of spur is not allowed in many English competitions. 

English Spurs with a Ball

Some spurs have a smooth rotating rubber or metal ball at the end. These types of spurs are good for sensitive horses, as the ball helps reduce any pinching or rubbing. 

Don’t Forget Your Spur Straps! 

No matter the type of English spur you choose, you’ll need to purchase spur straps to go with them. Normally made of leather, spur straps come in different colors. Most riders choose a color that will match their boots. 

How to Wear English Riding Spurs

Your spurs should be level rather than tilted up or down. Spurs should also fit snugly around the ankle, and not be too loose. 

To wear spurs, you’ll need to thread the spur strap through the eye of the spur, slide it under your boot, wrap it around, and buckle it. 

Proper Spur Usage 

Before you start using spurs, you must know how to apply your leg correctly. Otherwise you may find yourself relying too heavily on your spurs, which can be annoying at best, and painful at worst, for your horse. 

English rider cantering a dapple gray horse

Frequently Asked Questions About English Riding Spurs

Are English Riders Allowed to Use Spurs?

Yes, according to the AQHA Handbook, spurs are optional equipment that is allowed. Spurs must be unrowelled and blunt, round or have a smooth rolling rubber ball. They must not be longer than one inch. 

Make sure to check the rulebook of any shows you attend. Remember, rules may vary from event to event. 

Do English Riders Use Spurs? 

Yes, many English riders choose to use spurs. They are especially common in hunt seat fence and rail classes, where riders are trying to achieve higher speeds. 

When Would You Use English Riding Spurs? 

If your horse is lazy and needs a little extra encouragement, spurs can be a good option. Spurs can help you keep your horse straight by keeping them in front of your leg.

Once your horse recognizes that you’re wearing spurs, you’ll find they require a lot less pressure. Remember to use your spurs to encourage your horse, rather than punish them. 

What Sizes Do Spurs Come In?

Spurs normally come in a few different sizes including Men’s, Ladies, Youth, and Children’s.

Which Spur Is Best for Me? 

The type of English spur that’s best for you and your horse depends on several factors. How sensitive is your horse? What is your level of riding ability? What events do you compete in? Think through these questions as you pick out your spur.