Product Review: Spursuaders (And How You Can Help Them Be FEI Legal)

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Spursuaders — not FEI or USEF legal yet, but they could be! Photo by Jenni Autry. Spursuaders — not FEI or USEF legal yet, but they could be! Photo by Jenni Autry.

I first heard about Spursuaders when Steuart Pittman mentioned them in a clinic I was riding in a few years back. He regularly uses them on off-track Thoroughbreds and recommends them for any sensitive horse or someone who wants a less severe yet equally effective spur. My trainer, Holly Sands, has also used them with great results on her Thoroughbreds.

So when Linda Hauck, creator of Spursuaders, asked EN to try them out, I jumped at the chance. Mia is your typical sensitive Thoroughbred mare, so I thought she’d be a perfect test case for the product. Since Mia, with her sassy attitude, only wants to work just as hard as she thinks she needs to, spurs are a necessity for me, especially when it comes to lateral work.

I switched out my typical roller ball spurs for Spursuaders, and wow — what a difference! While these will not magically give your own sassy OTTB mare a good work ethic, they will make the negotiation process much easier and pleasant for all parties involved. I can now “talk to her” while avoiding an angry tail swish or pinned ears — SO much better.

The large, round end of the spur is meant to distribute pressure. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The large, round end of the spur is tilted 4 degrees in to give a more gentle effect. Photo by Jenni Autry.

So how do Spursuaders work, and why are they a good option for sensitive horses like Mia? The spurs are 4.5 inches long from end to end, with the patented circular end curving inward at a slight 4-degree tilt. Linda, a Canadian eventing technical delegate with more than 35 years of experience in the horse industry, said the spur is designed that way to make the horse happier.

“There’s not a lot of muscle and skin over the ribs along the spur line,” Linda said. “Even a Prince of Wales spur can feel really sharp. I put one on my own rib cage, and I thought, ‘Oh my God; that is offensive.’”

Linda got to work designing a spur with a contact surface big enough to apply pressure but smooth enough so that it wouldn’t poke and jab the horse in an uncomfortable way. She went to her neighbor and asked him to “put a Canadian loonie on the back of a traditional spur” in his workshop, and thus the first Spursuader prototype was born. Linda talks much more about the design process in this video:

Since the product officially launched in 2009, riders from all English disciplines — and there’s even a Western Spursuader now — have tried the product and loved it, with big names like Bernie Traurig, Peter Gray, Selena O’Hanlon and Chelan Kozak using them and recommending them.

Joris Van Springel even wore Spursuaders aboard Lully des Aulnes at Badminton in 2010, jumping clear cross country with just 5.6 time penalties. But they haven’t been used in a major event since. Unfortunately, Spursuaders are not legal for eventing at the FEI level (see page 15 of the FEI’s Eventing FAQ on Use of Tacks, Equipment and Dress). USEF rules (section EV114.4) also ban them for USEA events.

“For the last two years, Equine Canada has been asking the FEI to allow these spurs, primarily on the grounds that they are more humane than anything that is permitted now,” Linda said.

Joris Van Springel wearing Spursuaders at Badminton in 2011. Photo by Kit Houghton.

Joris Van Springel wearing Spursuaders at Badminton in 2010. Photo by Kit Houghton.

FEI rules state the shank of the spur “must point only towards the rear.” Remember that slight 4 degree curve in, designed that way for the comfort of the horse? That’s what makes them illegal under current FEI and USEF rules.

Spursuaders are legal for eventing in Canada, as well as at USHJA, USDF, and dressage shows in Great Britain and Canada. And Linda remains hard at work spreading the word about Spursuaders in the hopes that they can be approved by the FEI and, subsequently, the USEF.

“Riders are just asking for more choices,” Linda said. If you already use Spursuaders, let us know your experience with them in the comments below. And if you want to request that Spursuaders be made legal for eventing in the U.S., contact Sharon Gallagher at [email protected]. USEF rule change proposals can be submitted at this link.

Spursuaders are available for $54.99 at this link. For more information on Spursuaders, click here to visit the website, and you can also like their Facebook here. And while you’re at it, check out Linda’s other products, the Tapestry Neck Strap — love the idea of elastic inserts in a neck strap! — and the brand new Tapestry Comfort Girth.

Go Spursuaders. Go Shopping!