Why Are Spurs For On Cowboy Boots? (Unraveling the Spurs Mystery)

Imagine yourself in the wild west, a setting sun ahead, the crunch of dry dirt under your boots, and that distinct sound of jingling with each step you take. Yes, we’re talking about cowboy spurs, those star-shaped metal pieces attached to the back of your cowboy boots. But have you ever asked, ‘Why are spurs for on cowboy boots?

Today, we’re taking you on an exciting journey to uncover the truth about the role of spurs in cowboy boots. If you’re intrigued by cowboy culture, love Western style, or enjoy digging into interesting facts, you’re in the right place.

You see, those Spurs aren’t just for show. They’ve got a rich history, a practical purpose, and a significant role in shaping the cowboy culture we know and love today. We’ll delve into this fascinating world, demystifying the spur and discovering its unique place in the history of cowboy boots.

So, buckle up as we hit the trail to explore this iconic cowboy symbol. By the end of this post, we promise you’ll have a newfound appreciation for cowboy spurs, their history, and why they’ve become such an integral part of cowboy boots.

What Are Spurs?

Now that we’ve set the stage let’s dive in. So, what exactly are spurs? In the simplest terms, spurs are metallic devices attached to the heel of a rider’s boot. Picture this – a U-shaped piece that fits around the heel, typically made from iron or steel.

At the back, you’ll find a small metal rod (the shank), often ending in a wheel with pointed projections, called a rowel. Think of a miniaturized starburst made of metal.

Don’t let their size fool you, though. While they may be small, spurs are mighty in their purpose. They serve as a tool for communication between the rider and their horse, a gentle (or sometimes not-so-gentle) nudge to steer or stop.

But Spurs aren’t just about function. They also carry a hefty weight of symbolism, signifying status, skill, and tradition in the cowboy world.

So, next time you catch a glimpse of these iconic boot accessories in a Western movie or at a rodeo, you’ll know that they’re much more than just a piece of decorative metal.

They’re a key that unlocks a rich world of cowboy history, horse riding dynamics, and cultural heritage. Intrigued? Stick around as we delve deeper into the exciting world of spurs!

Also read: Do You Tuck Jeans into Cowboy Boots?

Why Are Spurs For On Cowboy Boots

Spurs and Cowboys: Why Are Spurs For On Cowboy Boots?

The relationship between a cowboy and his horse is a timeless bond, a seamless partnership that’s been etched into our collective consciousness. And spurs? They’re the secret language that makes this partnership work. So, let’s uncover the ‘why’ behind those spurs on cowboy boots.

Cowboys spend much of their days on horseback, herding cattle, exploring landscapes, and even competing in rodeos. And for these activities, effective communication with their horses is key.

This is where the Spurs come into play. With a gentle press or a slight heel swivel, cowboys can signal their horses to move forward, turn, slow down, or perform intricate maneuvers.

The technique of using spurs is as much an art as it is a skill. It’s not about jabbing the horse’s sides. Oh no, that’s a big cowboy no-no! Rather, it’s about subtle cues, a slight pressure, a little nudge, and sometimes a light brush. It’s this delicate touch that keeps the horse comfortable and responsive.

Also read: What does a cowboy boot on a fence mean?

And here’s the interesting part. Over time, horses start understanding this language of spurs. They respond to the slightest touch, making the ride smoother and more harmonious. Think of it like a dance, where the cowboy leads and the horse gracefully follows, all guided by the gentle jingle of spurs.

So, spurs aren’t just a cowboy’s fashion statement; they’re an essential tool for their daily work. They represent a unique blend of functionality and tradition, embodying the spirit of the cowboy way of life.

Spurs: A Badge of Honor in Cowboy Culture

In the cowboy world, wearing spurs is more than just a style statement or practicality. It’s akin to wearing a badge of honor. In this rugged community, spurs have evolved to represent a rider’s skill level and status. But how did a simple horse-riding tool turn into such a powerful symbol?

Back then, a cowboy couldn’t just strap on a pair of spurs. They had to be earned. Learning to ride a horse was just the first step.

It took years of experience, countless miles ridden, and many long days working on the range before a cowboy could consider adding those jingling accessories to his boots. The spurs were a testament to a cowboy’s proven skills and experience.

Wearing spurs wasn’t just about demonstrating one’s riding abilities. It also signaled respect for the cowboy tradition and ethos. When a young cowboy finally earned his spurs, it was a moment of pride, an acknowledgment from his peers that he was now a fully-fledged member of their close-knit community.

But the significance of the Spurs doesn’t stop there. Within the cowboy community, not all spurs are created equal. The spurs’ style, design, and intricacy can further indicate a cowboy’s status and personal flair.

Do Spurs Hurt The Horse? (Debunking Myths About Horse Comfort)

One question often gallops into the conversation about spurs is, “Do they hurt the horse?” It’s a valid concern that speaks volumes about the love and care we hold for these majestic creatures.

Simply put, spurs do not hurt the horse when used properly. They’re not tools of punishment but rather aids for communication.

A spur’s primary function is to provide a precise cue to the horse, refining the messages sent through the rider’s leg aids.

Think of them as an extension of the rider’s leg, able to give more specific instructions in a language the horse understands. Skilled riders use spurs subtly, touching the horse gently, never jabbing or gouging.

However, like any tool, spurs can be misused. In the wrong hands, or when used excessively or harshly, they could cause discomfort or harm. This is why understanding and mastering the use of spurs is crucial.

It’s not just about strapping them onto your boots; it’s about learning to communicate with your horse most effectively and compassionately.

That’s why seeking guidance from experienced riders or professional trainers is always recommended before adding spurs to your riding routine. They can help you understand when, how, and why to use them, ensuring the comfort and well-being of your equine partner.

how to attach spurs on cowboy boots

How To Attach Spurs on Cowboy Boots?

So, you’ve decided to give the Spurs a whirl—great! Whether you’re a cowboy gearing up for a ride, a horse enthusiast looking to refine your communication with your steed, or a trendsetter eager to add a western touch to your look, knowing how to attach spurs to your boots properly is key. Let’s saddle up and learn how to strap on those spurs.

  1. Select Suitable Spur Straps: These are leather straps specifically designed to hold the spur in place on your boot. Select straps that are durable, comfortable, and appropriately sized for your boot.
  2. Slip the Strap Through the Spur: Thread the spur strap through the slots on the spur. Ensure the buckle of the Strap faces outward for easy adjustments when wearing. The decorative side of the Strap should be visible once the spur is on your boot.
  3. Position the Spur on Your Boot: Place the spur so that the band (the part that wraps around the boot) sits on the back of your boot, just above the heel. The shank—the part of the protruding spur—should point down and slightly toward the back.
  4. Wrap the Spur Straps Around Your Boot: Take the straps across the front of the boot, crossing over the arch of your foot. The straps should be snug but not overly tight. You don’t want your spurs to move while walking or riding, but they shouldn’t restrict your foot’s movement either.
  5. Buckle the Straps Securely: Fasten the straps, ensuring they are secure but comfortable.
  6. Check Your Spurs: Finally, check your spurs to ensure they are properly affixed and comfortable. The rowel (the spinning disc part of the spur) should sit on the back of your boot’s heel and not dig into the side of your foot or ankle.

Remember, wearing spurs is responsible for using them correctly and respectfully, whether in horse riding or as a fashion statement.

How to Care for Your Spurs: Tips for Longevity and Performance

Whether you’re a seasoned cowboy, an enthusiastic horse rider, or a fashion-forward trendsetter, taking good care of your spurs is essential. So, how do you ensure they continue to jingle and shine? Let’s delve into some simple yet effective tips for maintaining your spurs.

First and foremost, regular cleaning is key. After a day of riding, a touch of the wild west, or a strut down the high street, your spurs could use a little care. Gently clean them with a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. For stubborn dirt, a soft brush could do the trick.

Now, let’s add some shine. Metal polishes work wonders on spurs, especially silver or steel ones. Apply the polish following the product’s instructions, then buff it out for a gleaming finish. Always test a small area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor your precious spurs.

Prevention is better than cure. To avoid rusting, store your spurs in a dry, cool place. And if you live in a particularly humid climate, consider using silica gel packs or dehumidifiers to keep moisture at bay.

Remember to check your spur straps too regularly. If they’re leather, use a quality leather conditioner to keep them supple and prevent cracking. If you notice any damage, replace them promptly to ensure your spurs are secure and functional.

Lastly, remember to give your rowels some attention. Make sure they spin freely. If they’re sticking, a touch of oil at the center can get them spinning smoothly again.

There you have it! With these tips, your spurs should be set to jingle and shine for years. Whether you’re out on the range, on horseback exploring the countryside, or turning heads in the city, taking good care of your spurs ensures they’ll always be ready for the next adventure.


Spurs are a testament to the enduring legacy of cowboy culture, an emblem of a rider’s skill and status, a tool for subtle communication between horse and rider, and now a bold fashion statement.

The most intriguing aspect of spurs is their ability to transcend their original functional purpose and embody a cultural narrative. They’re a symbol that speaks volumes, an artifact that mirrors the evolution of our society’s values, norms, and aesthetic sensibilities.

As we end our ride through the world of spurs, we leave you with this thought: What if we viewed every object around us with the same perspective as the spur on a cowboy boot? How many untold stories, symbolic meanings, or unexpected transitions might we discover?

And as you walk away from this journey, with the jingle of spurs echoing in your ears, remember that even the most mundane things can hold a universe of significance—if only we take the time to explore it. Now that’s something to spur you on as you trot into your next adventure!


Q: How do I choose the right spurs for my cowboy boots?

A: Choosing the right spurs depends on several factors, including the riding you’ll be doing, your skill level, and the comfort of your horse. As a beginner, start with shorter, duller spurs and gradually transition to more advanced designs as you develop your riding skills.

Q: Are spurs cruel to horses?

A: When used correctly, spurs are not cruel to horses. They are intended to be a tool for subtle communication, not a means of punishment. A skilled rider will use spurs lightly and only when needed to give specific cues to the horse. However, spurs could harm a horse in the wrong hands or be used excessively.

Q: Are spurs necessary for all types of horse riding?

A: Not necessarily. Spurs are often used in specific equestrian disciplines that require precise control and communication with the horse, such as dressage, western riding, or cutting. Casual riders, trail riders, or those just beginning their riding journey might not need spurs.

Q: Are there different types of spurs?

A: There are several types of spurs, each designed for different purposes or riding styles. Some common types include the English spur, Western spur, and the Dressage spur.

My name is Brandon J. Nava, and I consider myself an expert on the cowboy lifestyle. I regularly attend events at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) am I am a member of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA). I've participated in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo or the Pendleton Round-Up and I aspire to be awarded by the American Horse Council or the United States Equestrian Federation in the near future. In addition I've visited lectures and educational programs at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.