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Horse Spurs and Its History

Jul 22, 2008
It is thought that the earliest spurs were probably made from bone or wood. Spurs have been used by horsemen and cowboys throughout the ages. In its earliest days the spur and the metal it was made with were a mark of rank. This is where the expression to "earn your spurs" came from. As punishment a knight would have his spurs and sword broken and taken away as part of his disgrace Rowels came along in France or Spain in the 10th Century or so and evolved through the Northern European and Spanish cultures according to their needs at the time. The Rowel of a spur is usually round and spins like a wheel with spikes that attach to the neck or shank of the spur. It is the part that actually touches the horse and makes a jingle noise when the rider is walking around.

Spurs are best known in the American West for use with the American cowboys. Spur styles continue to change just as the saddle, chaps and all other horse-riding equipment has changed over the years. The influence of early Spanish design is still evident in today's spurs. Chaps also influenced the spur in that where long chaps are worn, a dropped heel pattern and a chap guard were invented. The chap guard has a curved blunt piece that comes out on the shank just behind the heel which keeps the chap away from the rowel. The rowel is usually sharp and could tear up the leather of your chap in no time.

There are as many spur designs as their are horses in Wyoming and every maker tends to put their own special interest and personality to each one. Western style spurs tend to be heavy and are often decorated with rowels that rotate or spin. The neck of the spur is longer than others to fit the style of the western rider. The English spur is very different as it is lighter and more slim. It has a short neck with usually no rowel. The English spur has a blunt projection that is usually rounded. There are some English spurs that use a rowel, but they are rounded with no spikes and are used in sports requiring finesse such as dressage. Its goal is not to speed the horse up but to control his movements in precise complex movements.

A few types of spurs are: Prince of Wales style, The Disk style, Swan neck with rowels and the Waterford spur. They are divided in to Men's, Women's and Children's, according to the width of the spur. They also come in different neck lengths.

There are also modern type spurs used by motorcyclists. They are basically worn as foot jewelry that are hung off of the leather motorcycle boots. They are sometimes similar to spurs worn by equestrians and can actually be a safety tool as some of them have bright material that can worn motor vehicle drivers of their presence on the road. They can even add small strobing LED lights to them for added safety at night.

In any case, the spur has had a long history and multiple uses even in modern day. They will always be ultimately thought of as a tool of the American cowboy in the end.
About the Author
This article was written by Janine Carter, owner of Posh Pampered Pets. If you have any questions regarding Horse Supplies or Posh Pampered Pets , please feel free to call 979-221-7251 or email info@poshpamperedpets.com
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