Tell me more: spurs?

I wear spurs for every ride.*

*well, except when I forget and then end up hating myself.

Tristan is the epitome of the kick ride. Getting forward is our #1 problem, and nearly always has been, except for the early phase in which “stay all four feet on the ground” was our biggest problem.

So: spurs. Every time, every ride. Spurs, whip, helmet: without these things, riding does not happen.

Mind you, I am not digging into him with every stride. They’re a pointed reminder that I need to have in my toolkit to remind him that this shit is for real, they help give an edge to our transitions, and basically my life is much better when I have them on my feet.

So I’m not rethinking the actual wearing of spurs.

But I am rethinking the spurs that I have.

They’re 1/2″ Prince of Wales nubs. Bog-standard, except they do have fake crystal thingies on the side which, um, is the only way I can tell which way to put them on. Also, half the crystals are missing now, BUT I DIGRESS.
Do you ride with spurs? What type of spurs? Should I try a longer spur for a more effective aid? What about swan’s neck spurs? (Keeping in mind I am 5’9″ and he is 15 hands, and keeping my leg on  properly is definitely a consistent challenge.)
Please, talk me through this. It feels like this is an area I could make a small change that might pay off in dividends.

14 thoughts on “Tell me more: spurs?

  1. My pony is a VERY similar ride and while I do try and make an effort to ride without spurs now and then in an attempt to keep him honest to the leg, they're a necessary part of my tool kit as well. That said, I used to ride in the same little nubby spurs as you do, and had one of my past trainers tell me in no uncertain terms that I needed bigger ones, because all the little nubbins were doing was making me nag ineffectively, over-use the spurs, and lift my heel to use them. So I got some longer, knob-end spurs and they made a big positive difference in my spur usage!


  2. The common logic is that you need leg off for a cold horse, leg on for a hot horse. But the thing about leg off is that when you need it, it's gotta be effective or you just end up nagging (not that I have this problem or anything. Ahem).

    I've got 1 inch Prince-of-Wales spurs, and I try really really hard to ride with my toe pointing forward, leg OFF, most of the time. If I need the spur, I bring my leg back, instead of turning my toe out (long-time super bad habit, I'm working on it). I'm 5'8 and Taran is 15.1, so I get the long-legged rider problem. Having longer spurs means you need to move your leg less AND you can be more effective when you do use them. That said, I usually go to my whip first to reinforce my leg, and then use the spur.

    That said, I much prefer a slightly push ride than a hot ride. And unite, tall riders of short horses!


  3. I do not have experience with many different types of spurs. I primarily ride in exactly what you've got up there, but when I went to the Tanya Vik clinic and forgot my spurs and was in a near state of panic over spending $160 on a lesson only to forget my spurs, Megan lent me hers. They were essentially this: https://goo.gl/NmLRdS

    Jr is absolutely a push ride, but something about how these felt to him made it the lightest rides I've ever had. I can't believe I actually haven't bought a pair yet to be honest.

    And that's about all I've got for you. Good luck! Report back on the results?


  4. Okay, good to know, vote for longer spurs!

    I think our horses do have very similar outlooks on life, though you do a much better job of keeping Dino fit than I do with Tristan…!


  5. Nagging is my default state, just ask my husband…

    I do prefer to go whip first, but am really bad about leg-means-GO in the canter in particular. It's not uncommon for me to have a STRONG and constant inside spur aid to keep him lifting up and going in the canter.

    I definitely prefer the kick ride; I'm better at motivating than at calming. Or at least I used to be. I still remember spending a few weeks on a barn schoolie that I had thought was the ultimate kick ride – so I sat on him with my Tristan mindset of firm leg, go forward NOW, and holy mackerel he zipped forward like he was on fire. So it's not entirely me and my poor riding, which was a nice confidence-booster.


  6. I wear spurs when it's Serious Dressage Time on Moe. Like you, I am a tall person (5'9) on a not-tall (15.2) horse; Moe is very narrow, so I have a difficult time communicating effectively with my leg. Moe also turns into a slug when he's asked to do any real dressage work. I find I have better success with a slightly-longer-than nubby spur that's kind of heavy. I like the Sprenger Balkenhol Spurs for Ladies (http://pferdesport.sprenger.de/balkenhol-spurs-for-ladies.html) which are German silver and have a 35mm neck.


  7. I had some major issues with leg-means-go on my big red horse when I first got her. I remembered some comments from a clinic I audited and for a while was asking, then going straight to the stick behind my leg (jumping stick even in a dressage saddle because I can't hold a dressage whip to save my own life). As we've worked out our respect issues, I've been favoring my longest, slimmest diameter spurs because oddly enough for my sensitive, easily offended horse, I think that she likes the clarity of communication she gets because I am not a perfect, in shape rider and I do a fair amount of ammy flopping about on her back. I also end up putting my spurs way up my ankle and then tilting them up – this made sense for my retiree, who is 15.3 to my 35 inch inseam, but somehow still works the best on the horse whose barrel actually suits my leg (perhaps because she's less curvy and more narrow). I feel like I'm using my spurs less and less as they, in turn, get bigger (or longer and narrower) so borrowing a bigger set or finding some cheap might be a great experiment!


  8. Oh yay spurs! I pretty much never ride without them–I use rolly ball spurs which I like for… reasons? They seems cool. They tend not to rub my overly sensitive horse. Courage isn't really a kick ride in general, but he's a master of tuning out leg aids if I don't wear spurs. Thus, I wear them, only use them as needed, and everyone is happy.


  9. When I rode Cinnabar (who had been used for lessons and was horribly dead-sided), I preferred using longer spurs occasionally during a ride as a reminder, rather than short ones constantly as a nag. He was one of those horses I basically had to hold up with my legs at a trot. He ignored all aids, including the stick, unless I was wearing spurs.


  10. I am 6'0″ on a 15.3 hand horse and I adore my swan neck spurs. I was crunching my leg up trying to use my heel, but I don't do them. He is a very hot horse so I don't use them for go, just when he tries to ignore the move over cues. I also like that they are very rounded which reduces the chances of a over reaction (he is the queen of dramatic).


  11. I don't ride in spurs. Used to with my Quarter Horse back in the day. Knight, a TB certainly doesn't need it. If I get more edumacated on dressage at some point I probably will utilize them. But for now, we're okay. And I'm 5'9″ too!


  12. You might try roller spurs. I used to use those when I needed them. None of my current/recent horses are kick rides though. Nilla and Dijon think any touch of leg is a cue to run as fast as possible. So far Levi seems okay, with leg, but does not need a spur. We'll see how it develops.


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