Spurs are not meant to drive a horse permanently, but to refine and support the rider's aids. The leg aid affects a rather large area. Spurs enable the rider to better refine the aids and to set more targeted impulses. The aim should always be to use the spurs as little as possible. This way you can achieve the desired effect and prevent the horse from becoming dull.
Most important is that the choice of the right spurs is always based on the well-being of the horse. You do not want to hurt the horse. Especially riders that begin to use spurs should thus use rounded spurs that are not too long. Only when they have enough experience they should switch to other type of spurs.
Only those who already have a balanced seat and a calm leg position are able to use spurs in a correct and sensible way. But not only with untrained riders. The use of spurs should also be avoided in the beginning with young horses. Horses must first get used to the rider's calf, get to know and understand the forward driving leg aids. Thus they learn to trust the rider and his aids.
In the further course of the training you should use spurs with soft impact. Only switch to stronger models if necessary. In different phases of training, the short-term use of more effective spurs can be helpful. After that, switch back to a softer one.
Character always plays an important role in the choice of the right spurs. Phlegmatic horses can tolerate stronger spurs than nervous, very keen or sensitive horses.
Riders with shorter legs and less distance between horse and heel get along with shorter spurs. Riders with long legs should use longer spurs so that the leg can lie more still. For extreme cases we have so-called "Swan neck spurs". These are bent upwards and shorten the distance to the horse's belly even further.
Some horses are very sensitive and delicate (coat and skin). Especially during coat change. We recommend using rather soft spurs or spurs with a thick wheel. In such cases, so-called Comfort Roller spurs are often ideal. Their thick wheel rolls when touched and does not rub on the sensitive coat.
The spur choice also depends on the disciplines, the respective rules and regulations. Western riders use different spurs than in the English disciplines. In eventing, the use of rowel spurs is only permitted to a limited extent. In the individual disciplines and age groups are restrictions on the spur length.
In essence, the spurs should be chosen rather blunt and rounded to make the impact as soft as possible. But, if the rider cannot keep a quiet leg position due to a too short or too blunt spur. It may be advisable to use longer or stronger ones. In any case, the rider should not need to permanently use the spurs. It is important that the driving leg is not replaced by the use of spurs. An improper use of spurs can blunt a horse or in the worst case injure it.
There are many spur models on the market. This does not by necessity make it easier to find the right ones. Spurs are available in different materials, qualities and price ranges. It is important with all materials that the structure of the surface cannot lead to injuries. With plastic spurs, for example, scratches can quickly appear on the surface. These can pose a risk of injury to the horse.
High-quality spurs are most often made of stainless steel or German Silver. These materials are rust- and shatterproof. They should have a comfortable fit and be free of sharp edges. These could injure a horse or damage the leather of the boot.
Sprenger's Ultra fit and Ultra fit Extra Grip and SLIMLINE spurs can be adapted to the rider's foot by bending them. The material (stainless steel) is break-proof and stable. The spur strap loop ensures that the spur strap cannot exert pressure on the instep or the lateral foot. This also protects the boot and ensures a secure and perfect fit.
Using spurs coated with rubber, you should make sure that the cover is of robust and not too soft rubber.
The most successful models from Sprenger have a neck size between 2 and 3.5 cm and are slightly rounded at the end. Both stainless steel spurs and rubber-coated spurs are particularly popular with customers.
There is no general answer whether a spur with rowel is sharper than without. This varies from horse to horse and also depends on the nature of the rowel or spur. Some horses react more intense to spurs with a flat neck, others to spurs with a wheel.
The following applies to spurs without a rowel. The more angular and narrow the spine / neck end, the stronger the effect.
The following applies to spurs with rowel. The thicker the rowel, the softer the effect. Rowels with spikes are sharper than circular ones. The rowel must never be tight, but should always be able to turn freely to avoid injury. Especially during coat change, hair and dirt can get stuck in between. Rowel spurs should thus need regular and thorough cleaning.
You can find the complete spur selection including detailed description here.