Unlike the McSpur I wrote about last week, the trademarked Spursuader is a real spur.  It may not be subtle in its design, but according to its inventor Linda Hauck, it is subtle in action.

As you can see, as a fashion accessory, it’s a failure, but then, as I said before, a spur is not a fashion accessory.

I wish I had owned a pair of these two months ago, when I convinced one of my very reluctant students with a very good leg, on a very lazy new lesson horse, to put on a pair of hammerheads.  She kept insisting that her leg wasn’t good enough for spurs, even though it is, and has been for years.  I kept insisting that not only was her leg good enough for spurs, she needed them.

She was having trouble using her leg due to a muscular issue related to a flare-up of a back problem, and the horse she was riding wasn’t one to generously offer anything.  She needed to be able to use her leg more effectively, and she simply couldn’t with the back pain that prevented her from effectively using her adductors and abductors.  With spurs, she could avoid pain, have an effective leg, and have a good ride.

While some people say that hammerheads are strong weapons in the spur arsenal, I disagree.  There’s more surface area, so there’s less poking and more prodding.  If you want to test it out yourself, just get a pair of hammerheads and a pair of Prince of Wales

and compare them on your arm.  (This same kind of thing works for bits, if you want to “test” how strong they are…try a slow twist some day.)

For the same reason that the hammerhead works, so does the Spursuader, which is a far more sophisticated and intelligent variation on the theme. When I met Linda at her Spursuader booth at the Equine Affaire, I was encouraged that she used the arm test.

I had vowed not to purchase anything for myself this year at that extraordinary emporium (gifts were okay) but I broke my vow with these spurs.  I’m still glad about the $50+ dollars I spent. I have yet to use them, but I know the time will come when I’ll strap them on my boots or a student’s boots.

I look back on the more sensitive horses I’ve ridden in the past (including one that Linda Tellington Jones told me was “too sensitive for TTouch”), and I wish I had owned a pair of Spursuaders then.  True, having sharp spurs will teach you to be careful with your leg on a horse in the same way that sharp knives will teach you to be careful with your hands in the kitchen.  Unlike sharp knives, though, sharp spurs are not always the best choice.

Overlooked so often when choosing a spur is the question of how the conformation of the spur relates to the conformation of the horse as well as the conformation of the rider.   Ideally, one should be able to employ the spur with a minimum of movement of the leg and ankle, so as not to disturb the horse/rider equilibrium.  It’s not just a matter of how a spur is designed, since any given spur will work differently depending on where the rider’s leg meets the horse’s body.

That’s another thing to like about the Spursuader.  There’s so much surface area, and the disc is already angled towards the horse, so that it can compensate for many variations in human and equine anatomy.

Right now, surprisingly, I find myself without any particularly sensitive horses to ride or train, and one of the few times in my riding career that I’ve been without a Thoroughbred.  I know the time will come again, and when it does, I know I’lll be happy to have a set of Spursuaders.

If I didn’t know her so well, I’d ask my very reluctant student to trade in the hammerheads I gave her for a pair of these, and see how she likes them.  But right now, she’s happy that she has her spurs and they’re working for her. She’s even told me that she’s discovering that her leg is better than she thought it was, if not as good as I say it is.

I think it’s best to just let that developing revelation continue without interruption, so I’ll stop persuading, and resist the temptation to strap some Spursuaders on her boots.  At least for the time being.  Her back is getting better, though, and soon she’ll be jumping again…and ready for the Spursuader, even if she isn’t going to Badminton (where Joris VanSpringel of Belgium wore them).