Riders can go all day wearing pretty much the same equipment — helmet, gloves, boots — without switching around. But spurs get changed from horse to horse and even for the same horse on different days or with different jobs, such as jumping, flat work and hacking out. The idea of a spur set — one spur body with several interchangeable heads — makes a lot of sense for a busy pro moving quickly between horses or even for the one-horse rider who occasionally needs to change spurs.
There are two basic choices of spurs sets available that represent both ends of the cost spectrum, workaday black poly spurs and elegant heavy steel spurs. We found both types of spur sets convenient and easy to use. Our testers ran into only one problem with each type: storage for the poly spurs and fit for the steel ones.
The low-end poly spurs come in a bubble pack that can’t be used for storage. We kept dropping dark spur heads into awkward spaces until we learned to stash them in a self-sealing plastic sandwich bag. We later upgraded to an old Altoids tin and the container problem was solved.
The high-end steel spurs don’t have a storage issue since they come with their own case. We started putting other small items we use daily in the same case to keep them all safely in one place, including gloves and hair net. The steel arms, however, are much heavier than the poly ones in order to provide a wide-enough space for the heads to be seated into the back. Therefore the arms of the steel spurs aren’t adjustable if you want to wear them on larger man-sized boots or over chaps.
The Spur Sets
The Tuss Ultimate Spur set, which comes in two varieties, was designed in England and comes neatly packaged in a padded zip case. Each set includes a pair of highly polished spur bodies with leather straps and four interchangeable heads. The heads set flush into a rectangular hole in the back of the spur body and are held into place with a slim rubber ”O” ring. It’s impossible to tell that the spurs aren’t solid unless your eyes are right on top of them.
The company says that the heads can be switched while wearing the spur bodies, but we found it easier to remove the spurs and use a solid surface to push against in order to seat the spur head securely. It was still easier than keeping track of several pairs of spurs or swapping straps on two different sets of regular spurs.
The General Purpose set is more suited toward hunter/jumper or eventing. The spur heads include a 25 mm (1”) hammerhead, a 25 mm plain head, a 25 mm ball head, and a 15 mm (1/2+”) ball head. The Advanced set is directed more toward dressage riders and includes a 30 mm (1+”) swan neck head, a 35 mm (1??”) blunt rowel head, a 35 mm ball head, and a 15 mm ball head.
The spur body is heavy steel, similar to high-end German spurs. Thus, the arms can’t be spread apart or made tighter. They fit beautifully over a boot or paddock boot, especially in women’s sizes or smaller men’s sizes, but won’t widen to fit easily over chaps or half-chaps. Extra rubber ”O” rings are available if you need them, and heads can be purchased from Tuss separately if you lose one.
Suggested retail price is $129 for the General Purpose set and $149 for the Advanced Set; http://www.spursusa.com/, 540-270-3427.
The composite poly interchangeable spurs are sold under a variety of names, but they’re the only poly spurs we’ve seen on the market in this country. They’re distributed in the United States by English Riding Supply as Composite Hot Spurs with Interchangable Heads. Most of the ones we’ve seen are the ladies size in black, but ERS also has them available in children’s size and in silver and gray colors. Straps are not included.
Even though they’re sized for ladies, the flexible poly arms will spread wider or pull in tighter depending on the size of the foot. They fit just as easily and comfortably over chaps and half chaps as they do over boots.
The arms of the spur body are of slightly different lengths, with the shorter arm intended to go on the inside of the foot, and the inside arm is marked with an arrow in that direction. However, our set seemd to include two bodies for a right foot, but it didn’t matter since the arms are so flexible. They felt comfortable and secure.
The heads include a 20 mm (3/4” ball head; 20 mm and 30 mm (1+”) plain heads; a 20 mm hammerhead; and a 30 mm fine-toothed rowel. The heads have a hollow shank with a groove that slips onto a notched nub in the back of the spur body. The heads are easy to switch, although a rider would need to remove them to do so. They stay firmly in place. Unfortunately, the shortest head is ??”. But if you have a sensitive horse, the spur body with its ??” nub at the back can also be used alone — and that actually could add another ”head,” making this six sets of spurs in one.
The Hot Spurs set is versatile, sturdy and worth the price. Check on whether non-metal spurs are legal for your discipline when showing. The suggested retail price is $19.95; http://www.englishridingsupply.com/, 866-569-1600.
If you need a pair of spurs for schooling, it makes a lot of sense to buy the Composite Hot Spurs set for pretty much the same price, and you’ll be getting different types of spurs instead of just one. We suggest you start with the poly spurs even if you think you’ll want the steel spurs down the road, because you’ll be able to test the concept of interchangeable spurs for little investment.
If you prefer the more elegant look of heavy steel spurs or need gleaming metal spurs for showing, then the Ultimate set will cost you the same as around three or four pairs of metal spurs. For someone who’s often switching spurs, the steel set in its padded case provides a notch up in convenience.
Both types of spurs are widely available. Prices vary widely, so check around.