Survey: Men, Non-FEI Sport Competitors More Likely to Ride With Spurs

British researchers investigated spur use in riders. Here’s what they found.
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Survey: Men, Non-FEI Sport Competitors More Likely to Ride With Spurs
Overall, 47% of survey participants rode wearing spurs, Lewis said. About half the respondents were adults under age 30,7% were older than 58, and only 5% were men. | Photo: iStock
Spurs have long been a part of equestrian tradition in a variety of disciplines. Their use, however, is gaining criticism among animal welfare groups concerned over misuse and injury—highlighted by the high-profile elimination of Charlotte Dujardin from the 2019 European Dressage Championships for blood on her horse’s flank. This ongoing conversation is why a group of U.K.-based researchers recently opened a preliminary investigation into who wears spurs and how they affect horses.

Victoria Lewis, who is working toward her doctorate degree at Hartpury University, in Hartpury, England, presented the work led by her master’s student, Chloe Lemon, also of Hartpury University, during the 15th annual conference of the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES), held Aug. 19-21 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Lemon, Lewis, and their fellow researchers conducted an online survey of U.K. riders on the topic of spur use. With nearly 900 respondents providing more than 600 complete responses, the scientists were able to detect trends related to rider profiles, spur use, spur types, and horse injuries.

Overall, 47% of participants rode wearing spurs, Lewis said. About half the respondents were adults under age 30,7% were older than 58, and only 5% were men.

The scientists noted 19 riding disciplines, including Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) events, non-FEI events, and leisure riding. Non-FEI competitive disciplines, such as mounted games or hunting, were associated with a 1.48 times greater likelihood of spur use than FEI disciplines like show jumping, dressage, and reining, Lewis said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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