- Use the correct boot: in order for spurs to fit and function properly, it is best to wear a boot that has a spur heel rest, which is a basically a small ledge that the spur band sits on, keeping it from slipping down. And, while it should go without saying, always make sure your footwear has a heel to keep your foot from sliding through the stirrup!
- The band: get the right size for your foot. While most spur bands can be bent for minor fit adjustments, it will perform best if you choose the right width to start with. A basic rule of thumb is that women's shoe sizes 5-10 and men's shoe sizes under 7 generally work best with ladies' spurs. If you wear a women's shoe size larger than 7½ or a men's size of 6½ or larger, you can use a men's spur size.
- The shank: this is the arm that attaches the rowel to the band. Most of the time, the longer your stirrup leathers, the longer you will need the shank to be in order to get a solid point of contact with the horse. If you have shorter legs or your horse has a large or round barrel, you will not need as long a shank to send cues.
- The rowel: this is the part that touches the horse, and can range from just a stubbed end or ball to a large-toothed wheel. A rowel with fewer teeth and more spacing between the teeth will have more "bite", while rowels with more teeth that are close together are much more gentle and subtle.
- Experience level and use: get the type of spur right for your type of riding, ability level, and horse's behavior. Beginning riders shouldn't use spurs, or should start with very gentle spurs until it is second nature to not automatically dig your heels into the horse for security. Know the rules, if any, if using spurs for an event. Finally, know why you need spurs: are you using the spurs on a horse with "dead sides" that just doesn't heed commands otherwise? Are you are sending specific instructions to a well-trained horse and don't want anyone to see the cue? Are you trying to add strong emphasis (ie: GO!) to a command?
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