Lindy Burch using cutting horse spurs

Important Tips for Choosing and Using Cutting Horse Spurs

If you’re new to cutting or thinking of getting involved in cutting you may have attended some shows or watched some live stream cutting to get a better understanding of the sport. If so, you might be wondering how the horses are guided with only legs and feet and without the use of reins. Follow along in the video as Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack visits with the First Lady of Cutting, cutting horse trainer Lindy Burch, of Oxbow Ranch, about the importance of leg and spur use, choosing the correct spurs for you and your cutter, and some tips on spur use on cutting horses.

Lindy says “spurs are an intricate tool for any trainer. They’re important to use for cutting because we can’t rein them or cue them with our hands like any other discipline. Having the right spur is critical.” Spurs have 3 main parts: the band which is shaped to fit the boot, the shank, and the rowel which is mounted on the end of the shank. Lindy says one of the first things to look at when choosing a spur is the length of the shank. The shank length you choose “depends on your body type, the length of your legs and how you ride” advises Lindy. Because a cutting horse must make incredibly quick starts, turns and stops to hold a cow “the whole idea of spurs is to be able to get in (cue the horse with the spurs) and get out (stop cueing the horse with the spurs). It’s probably more critical to get out of that horse, quick enough, to get to that stop” Lindy says.

Lindy advises, when choosing shank length, you really want to notice how you ride with your legs. If you ride with your legs close to your horse versus farther away from your horse that will make a difference in which shank length to use. With the quick moves a cutting horse makes, the time it takes for the rider’s spur to make contact with the horse, and then to remove the spur cue, is important. Lindy says “as you learn to ride, and ride well on a horse in the show pen, you’ll figure out where your feet are, what you need to maintain your balance on the horse, and, good riding position where you’re staying out of the horse’s way. But you’ll still be able to help them (with spur cues) when you need to.”

Rowel choice, says Lindy, “depends on your leg strength, what you’re trying to accomplish with your horse, your skill level, and the sensitivity of your horse.” Beginners should often choose a moderate type rowel . As a rider improves, they may need to go to a rowel that allows them to cue the horse quicker. Lindy says there are a range of leg cues a rider has available to use on a horse: “I can kick pretty easy, I can squeeze with my legs, I can press, I can use one leg or both legs, I can use my legs a little stronger and then get out, or kick a couple of times and then get out. Whatever I need to do to keep in position with my legs, that spur will allow me to do that” says Lindy.

“On a cutting horse you want to sit with your knees bent a little for shock absorption, where you’re not standing up in the saddle or reaching for a stirrup that’s too long. Stirrups that are too long affect a rider’s balance. We like to ride with our stirrups a little bit short. That gives us the ability to stay right in the middle of that saddle” says Lindy.

Lindy advises cutters to ride with their toes turned out a little bit. That way riders can cue their horse with their spurs and get out real quick. Because we ride with our toes turned out a little bit “I can use my calf and if the horse starts to move off, maybe that’s enough, or maybe I need to use my foot a little bit stronger. I can adjust how hard or how easy I use my calf, and my foot, to obtain whatever direction, and how much speed I want to use to get there. I use my feet to supplement what that cow is telling my horse to do. What’s more important, especially for beginners, is when you use your spur, to get back out. Your only brake on that horse, unless you pick your hand up, is to quit riding. That means get your feet out of that horse and just sit there and let that horse come up underneath you, and you stay on top of him to get to that stop” says Lindy.

Choosing which spurs to use and learning to use the different positions and maneuvers with your legs and feet to cue your cutter are important pointers as you begin in the thrilling sport of cutting.

Dennis Moreland Tack spurs are custom built to your personal specifications with sizes and styles to fit everyone. You choose the band size and width to fit your boots, the length and curve of the shank, and one of nine types of rowels. We are happy to assist you with your spur selection. If you purchase spur straps , we’ll attach them before we ship your spurs. Call (817) 312-5305 or email [email protected] for assistance.

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