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Guidelines for Wearing Spurs

Spurs are a useful tool to enforce your aids, when used correctly. Professional barrel horse trainer Tana Renick explains how, when and why to use spurs.

The Purpose of Spurs
“I don’t use them to try to get a horse to run harder or anything like that. I use them No. 1, for respect. I want my horse to stay respecting my leg. When I put a leg on a horse, I want them to move off me. [If they don’t respond to my leg], I’m not going to come out here and harpoon them with the spur, but I’ll put pressure and put that [spur] on them, I want that rib to bend and keep that rib bent.”

Spur Shank Length and Rider Leg Length
“A lot of times I’ll see short-legged people with really long shanks on their spurs. If you’re a short person, you need shorter shanks on your spurs, because your legs are up on the horse and you’ve got more direct contact with the horse’s sides than I do, because my legs are so long. I ride a long-shanked spur, because my legs are hanging down below this horse’s belly, so I need something longer to be able to make contact.”

Misconceptions About Spurs for Speed
“A lot of people think the harder you kick them, the more they’ll run, but I’ve found if I need more run out of my horse, if I put my spurs on their belly and roll my spurs up and down their belly while I’m going forward and asking them, a lot of horses will harder through that than when you’re out here gapping your legs and kicking the air out of them.”

When to Wear Spurs
“I ride most horses in spurs—just because you have spurs on doesn’t mean you have to use them. I’d rather have them and not need them than need them and not have them.”

Find more tips and videos from Tana Renick and other trainers here.