Stylish Spur Selection
- October 24, 2017
- Jolyn Young
I’ve been photographing cowpunchers for almost a year now, and I finally found something flashy and ornamental in their gear: their spurs! I had to look long, hard, and just above ground level, but it appears these guys wear their fancy on their feet.
These spurs were spotted at a fall branding on a northern Arizona ranch, right in the heart of cowpuncher country. The shanks are overlaid with the silver silhouette of a lovely lady. Should she be wearing clothes? If she was in high-brow company, yes. Is she inappropriately dressed for the cowboy crowd? Nope.
As I was celebrating the flash of silver (sometimes I miss buckaroo country, where silver is anywhere, everywhere, and all places in between), I thought about the general importance of spurs to horsemanship. Whether a person chooses to decorate their shanks with a bold silhouette or more conservative solid bands, there’s a whole lot more to spur selection than rowel size and eye appeal.
For example, a tall person will want a shank that goes straight out or curves upward. Since their long legs cause their feet to dangle below a horse’s belly, they’ll need spurs that reach up to deliver a signal to the horse more quickly. A shorter person (like me) often needs a spur with a drop-shank. Since our feet hang level to or slightly above the underline of our horse’s belly, we need shanks that curve downward to prevent us from accidentally spurring our horses in the belly with every stride.
Of course, personal preference and individual riding style factor into final spur choice, but these are general guidelines.
And if you’re little and cute and wear size 2T Wranglers, you can wear shiny Chihuahua spurs that were given to you by good family friends for your first birthday. “Chihuahua” is a spur style that has at least one hole in the shank.
I think they look cool, and my toddler son, Milo, is pretty stuck on them, too. He wears them to the branding corral, to the barn, and the grocery store.
Here’s a set of big-roweled spurs. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are more severe just because they are big; the many points make for a milder signal when used on a horse’s side. Rowels that have fewer, larger points can deliver a sharper signal.
This type of rowel would need to be used with more caution and sensitivity. But, when used properly, they can deliver a signal that elicits a humane, high level of performance from a horse. Like every tool, a spur’s effectiveness is in the feel of the horseman.
And then we have these beauties, which were made by the wearer’s grandfather. Spurs can last through several generations, needing only dry storage, an occasional new set of spur straps, and progeny with a similar inseam.
Whether bought off the shelf, custom ordered or handed down through the family tree, spurs are an integral part of a working cowboy’s outfit. They reflect horsemanship methods, individual build and personal style. If you’re in the market for a pair of spurs, pick a pair that fit you and make you and your horse more comfortable.
About Jolyn Young
Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....