FAQ Gear Riding

5 Best Spurs for Beginners (And Their Horses)

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Written by Annabelle A.

Learn how to choose the right spurs when you’re learning how to ride.

Getting a pair of spurs is a big choice–and a big responsibility. The number of available options can be overwhelming, especially when you are just getting started. While spurs can be a useful riding aid, they can also be harmful if you don’t use them properly.

We’ll discuss 5 options that are ideal for beginner riders (like Coronet Soft Touch spurs that have rubber ends) so can make a smart decision for you and your horse. Regardless of which spur you choose, ask your trainer how to use this new piece of equipment correctly. Your horse will thank you!

Summary: 5 Best Spurs for Beginners

Spur Style Overview
Colorado Saddlery Flying Heart Spur (Amazon) Bumper Spur Decorative leather bumper spur that’s a good choice for beginners.
Tough-1 AT Sidewinder Spurs (State Line Tack) Bumper Spur All metal, entry level bumper spur that’s gentle and solid.
Coronet Prince of Wales Spurs (Amazon) Roller Ball Entry level spur with gentle metal roller ball, good beginner option.
Coronet Rubber Soft Touch Spurs (Amazon) Rubber Ball Soft rubber ball spur that is easy for beginners but may not have the longevity of metal options.
Coronet Prince of Wales Spurs (Amazon) Round End Intermediate spur for riders who need a bit more than a roller or rubber ball.

Click to skip to details about each spur

Riding with Spurs 101

Spurs can be controversial and are often a misunderstood riding tool. Used correctly, spurs can help refine communication, especially when working on lateral movement.

Like all artificial aids (e.g. crop), spurs should be used carefully and only as a supplement to natural cues, such as your voice, hands, seat, and legs.

learn-use-spurs

Learning to use spurs is a process.

For beginner riders, it’s better to focus on refining your natural cues before adding spurs to the equation. When you are ready to start riding with spurs, it’s a good idea to consult with a trainer.

Even a gentle horse can have very strong reactions to spurs and it’s important for riders to learn how to use them properly.

Click to skip to details about each spur

Getting Started With Spurs:

  1. Start by introducing your horse to spurs from the ground. Let him see, smell, hear, and feel them.
  2. If he is not spooked by them, you can start with groundwork. Use your voice and very gentle pressure of the spur to encourage your horse to move away from the pressure. When he responds, immediately remove the pressure.
  3. When you are both comfortable, you can ride your horse while wearing the spurs. Your natural aids should always be the first line of communication, only adding spurs when necessary.

If you’ve carefully introduced your spurs and use them gently, you should rarely, if ever, need much added pressure.

Need boots to go with your new spurs? Check out our 9 Rookie Approved Horseback Riding Boots for Beginners.

Colorado Saddlery Flying Heart Bumper Spur

Bumper spurs are a great choice for riders who are new to spurs. The Colorado Saddlery Flying Hearts are a stylish bumper spur option.

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Gentle on the horse
  • Good for beginners
  • Decorative silver accents

CONS:

  • No way to kick without applying the spur

Click to see these spurs at AmazonReturn to list

Tough-1 AT Sidewinder Bumper Spurs

Tough-1 AT Sidewinders

are popular and affordable, making them a wonderful entry level option.

beginner-spur

Click to see it at State Line Tack

PROS:

  • Gentle on the horse
  • Quality construction
  • Simple design goes well with any boot

CONS:

  • No way to kick without applying the spur

Click to see these spurs at State Line TackReturn to list

Learning to ride well, with and without spurs, is critical. Check out our step-by-step article about How to Ride Horses for Beginners.

Coronet Prince of Wales Spurs with Roller Ball

A great alternative to bumper spurs are roller ball spurs (e.g. no sharp pieces). An especially popular choice for English riders, Prince of Wales spurs are a gentle, beginner option.

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Can kick without spurs
  • Gentle on the horse
  • No sharp edges

CONS:

  • Run wide and may not fit thinner boots
  • Requires thin spur straps

Click to see these spurs at AmazonReturn to list

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Coronet Rubber Soft Touch Spurs

While the design is similar to the Prince of Wales spurs, this version of the Coronets replaces the metal ball with a soft rubber one. This option is even gentler than its metal counterpart.

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Rubber ball is extra gentle
  • Can kick without spurs
  • Good for beginners

CONS:

  • Rubber ball is less durable than metal

Click to see these spurs at AmazonReturn to list

Coronet Prince of Wales Round End Spurs

For a little more strength, the next step up is round end spurs. Round end Prince of Wales spurs are another popular choice with English riders, but also suit Western riders.

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Short shank for easier control
  • Quality construction
  • Versatile option for all riding disciplines

CONS:

  • Narrower fit, so you may need to widen them for some boots

Click to see these spurs at AmazonReturn to list

Riding Western, but still not sure what you want to focus on? Check out our 20 Different Types of Western Riding (With Video Examples).

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are spurs for horse riding?

Spurs are metal attachments to riding boots that can be used as an additional riding aid. Ideally, spurs should be used to refine lateral movement and not to encourage speed. They come in a variety of styles and can be very gentle or quite harsh.

Q: Do you need spurs to ride a horse?

Many riders never use spurs and not all horses respond well to spurs. Like many things in riding, whether or not spurs can and should be used depends on the rider, the horse, and the intended outcome.

Q: Do spurs hurt the horse?

While spurs should not hurt a horse, they absolutely can hurt a horse. You can minimize risk by using the gentlest spur your horse will respond to, only using the spur as a last resort, and under the guidance of a trusted instructor.

Q: How do I choose the right spurs?

If you are new to spurs, choose something gentle, such as roller ball or bumper spurs. You’ll want something that fits correctly, doesn’t stick out too far from your heel, and that your horse responds well to.

It’s always best to work with a trainer, especially if they know your horse, to decide what would be right for you.

Q: How do you fit spurs to your boots?

Spurs should be loose enough to slide easily onto the back of your boot without sliding down below the spur ledge on your boots. They should be slightly wider than the boot and have some wiggle room.

Spurs that are too tight can damage your boots and cause foot pain, while spurs that are too loose can slide out of place.

Q: What are bumper spurs?

Bumper spurs are a softer option for riders who would like to try spurs or horses that are particularly sensitive. Rather than a shank, bumper spurs have a curved metal piece around the heel that is fairly flat, rather than spiked.

They are a great option for horses who just need a little bit of extra encouragement but don’t need a full spur.

Q: What about wearing spurs in public?

In general, spurs should only be worn if you’ll be using them. While you don’t need to remove them immediately after dismounting your horse, it’s generally frowned upon to wear spurs for fashion or outside of functional purposes.

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Spurred to Success

No one pair of spurs is the perfect option for any horse and rider combo. No matter which spur you choose, remember to introduce them slowly and gently to your horse, and always use caution when riding with them.

Using them responsibly will support a healthy, happy relationship with your horse.

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About the author

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Annabelle A.

My parents owned a boarding facility and ran a lesson program throughout my childhood, so I was quite literally raised in a barn! As an adult, I've owned and shown two horses and now love watching my own children learn to ride. I also loved watching my sisters show on their college equestrian teams.