I think it’s safe to say that one of the most controversial topics frequently discussed on (equestrian) social media are the use of artificial aids. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, artificial aids are the stick (also referred to as a crop or whip) and spurs, which are used to reinforce the natural aids (a riders leg). “Spurs and whips are used to reinforce the forward driving aids. The artificial aids are only brought into action if the legs are not effective.” [British Horse Society Manual of Equitation]
Personally, I always ride my horse with a stick and spur. I am at a level where I know when and how to properly utilize them if needed. Unfortunately, too often the artificial aids are abused and used inappropriately and/or incorrectly, which 99% of the time ends with a confused, irritated horse and frustrated rider – or worse. It is my personal belief that only once a rider has 100% independent control and understanding of their leg and how to correctly school a horse at all gaits should the spur be introduced if necessary. (Again, this is my own opinion. I am not a trainer or a professional.)
Insert Tapestry Equine Products! The founder and owner, Linda Hauck, was nice enough to give me a little insight to the products she has developed in order to keep our horses happy. Additionally I was able to take her innovative ‘Spursuaders’ for a test ride!
Instead of being poked and jabbed with a long pointy piece of metal, wouldn’t you rather have a wider circumference of pressure from a rounded edge? I know I would! These spurs are the answer to the rider that wants a spur that is effective but not invasive or a trainer that wants to introduce spurs to their student leveling up.
I’m not going to lie, when I first saw them I thought “O M G these are huge!” Because, in relation to your normal everyday Prince of Wales spur, they are totally different. However, once on, they are not as noticeable as you would think. I lessoned in them today and my trainer didn’t even notice until I mentioned them to her – and she is as old school conservative as they come.
I asked Linda a few questions regarding her background in the equestrian industry as well as the development of her products and was blown away when I learned about her experiences. I was thrilled that she was such an accomplished rider – I truly believe to develop a functional and quality equestrian product you need to have first hand experience in the industry.
Linda has just that. She has been in the horse industry for 40 years as a competitor, coach AND official. She completed up to Advanced with Steeplechase in eventing as a member of the YR team in 1983. She is also a Level 2 EC competition coach and a Level 3 TD Eventing official. Linda also trained racehorses for ten years, and currently buys, retrains and sells off the track.
When retraining the Thoroughbred for eventing, Linda found they would overreact to the traditional Prince of Wales spur. (A seasoned professional, it’s safe to say she has a very good lower leg!) She had the same sentiment I mentioned earlier, and when thinking from the horses point of view, wouldn’t want to be poked or jabbed either. Additionally Linda coached many amateurs who shouldn’t have been wearing such a sharp spur due to the damage they can cause under the skin. Her solution? The Spursuaders.
After my test ride, I am totally schooling in these everyday. They are EFFECTIVE without being irritating. Donny is not overly sensitive, but he does take offense to a jab when he’s not listening, especially with lateral work or if I accidentally get him when jumping bigger fences. Today he performed wonderfully with the Spursuaders – I was able to apply forceful pressure when needed with no angry ears in sight!As a hunter rider, I don’t think I could show in these. As I mentioned earlier, my trainer is very old school and some habits (ahem, classic show turnout, much to my dismay) die hard. Sometimes I don’t even need a spur when showing – Donny being on high alert usually gives me a little more engine. However, i
f I did the jumpers, I would 100% wear them in the show ring.
What is so refreshing about Linda’s take on creating effective equestrian products is the fact they are developed “with the horse’s take on the situation.” She wouldn’t like to be poked or jabbed with a sharp object, so she came up with a solution. The spurs aren’t the only thing Linda has developed, though.Says Linda, “How would you like to wear a tight belt around your waist and go and run a cross country course or a high jump course. Traditional girths can’t be comfortable given their designs and a horses anatomy. So a lifetime of watching horse’s get girthed and seeing how negative their reaction can be I thought there has to be a better way.” So, Linda designed the Tapestry Comfort Girth, a girth that will breathe with the horse and allow them full range of motion with no blocking of movement behind the elbow.
I have not tried the Tapestry Comfort Girth myself, but if it’s anything like the spurs I’m sure Donny (along with any other horse!) would be extremely grateful to have a revolutionized girth that better suited his anatomy.
If you have any questions about my experience with the Spursuaders, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org