Do spurs hurt horses? Should you really be using horse riding spurs? Is it important to wear riding spurs? To wear or not to wear riding spurs has always been a contentious issue with people having strong opinions about them if they are cruel or not. With such preset opinions, it is hard for a new rider, unfamiliar with the idea of a spur, to know the truth.
If one person is of the opinion that they are cruel whereas someone else thinks otherwise, they both can not be right.
It has always been a heated topic of discussion that whether a rider should wear spurs or not. It is a part of riding tack and has been used for years.
Horse riders wear it around the side of the riding boots which is often bumped into the horse’s skin.
So, most people feel that it is uncomfortable and unpleasant for the horses and in extreme cases, causes ringbone, bruises, and rashes.
Do Spurs Hurt Horses?
Frankly put, riding spurs will not generally hurt the horse when they are the right type and used correctly. When spurs are poked into the side of the horse, they will certainly feel pressure but not pain, in most cases.
Spurs used should be round instead of pointy ones to not cause any harm to the horse.
Beginners and inexperienced riders should avoid using spurs.
A rider should be experienced enough to control his leg and not squeeze the side of the horse hard to save them from any pain or discomfort.
When used wrong, it can cause the skin to scratch and in extreme cases, bleeding happens.
Horses have sensitive skins and spurs can potentially hurt them when not used in the right way.
The rider’s inability to use the spurs correctly hurts the horse.
The right type and design of the spur make a huge difference in providing convenience and comfort.
What Are Horse Spurs Used For?
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn on the heels of the riding boots that help in telling horses which way to move.
Riders can direct the horses better with spurs making them react to smaller aids, ultimately making riding a lot easier. With many slow horses, it is important to use spurs and riding crops to keep their pace.
Spur is not a form of punishment and it has never been used as such. On the contrary, it is a helpful tool that makes the horse react to smaller, more visible aids. Spurs or fake spurs are used by riders during many events and dressage shows. However, it is up to riders mostly to wear spurs or leave them out.
Different horse shows and events only allow the use of spurs or certain types of spurs. Many spurs made today are designed keeping in mind the horse’s comfort and convenience of the rider.
Choose Your Riding Spurs Wisely
There are many rules and regulations when it comes to the certain designs of the spurs. Some designs are allowed by most equestrian organizations whereas some poorly made designs are not welcomed anywhere.
There are different types of spurs generally accepted and allowed by different organizations. Dozens of spurs are available in the market currently, ranging from ballpoint spurs to Prince of Wales and everything in between.
Smaller and softer spurs are gentler for the horses. Some horses need a little more get up and go, so, the longer Prince of Wales spurs are more useful for directing them better.
Spurs rounded at the tip are generally more comfortable for the horse and the rider while riding. It does not matter whether they can rotate or not, the important thing to consider is the distribution of the pressure. Spur types with a broad tip or several smaller points spread the pressure over a large surface.
When in doubt that whether you have selected the right spur or not, take it to the vet or a tack store representative. They will surely point you in the right direction for finding the right type of spurs.
Spur Designs To Avoid
Some spur designs or types are deemed illegal by many equestrian organizations and can not be used in competition or in general. Spurs that are pointy and sharp at the edges can cause unnecessary harm to the horse.
Whether spikes are mounted on the spur or built into the tip, using these spurs can be considered animal abuse.
Old spurs become sharp and pointy over time causing a bump by accident. Examine the spurs closely and how it is constructed before you buy one.
Are Spurs Considered Cruel?
Most organizations and competitions allow spurs to be used as they help riders direct the horse better. They do not hurt when using the right design, therefore, not considered cruel at all.
Some riders sharpen the spurs to make horses react immediately, it is undoubtedly cruel to the poor animal. Such behavior should not be tolerated and reported as animal abuse immediately. Using spurs correctly makes sure the spurs are not accidentally bumping the rider’s heels to the ribs.
Should Beginners Use Spurs?
Most equestrian experts advise beginner-level riders to not use spurs at all. A rider needs to be good at riding before he should start working with spurs. You can be a good rider without them and it is not mandatory to use spurs.
Even though spurs make it easier to control horses, the decision to use spurs should be left to your liking and how the horse trainer looks at it. If you have learned to use them well, it can be a good tool to communicate instructions to the horse clearly.
Right types of spurs do not hurt the horse, so, the decision to use one or leave out should be based on your personal preferences. It does give horse riders a competitive edge, however, when used incorrectly, it can be abusive to the poor horse.