For many generations, Riding Spurs have been constantly modified to fit the particular needs and preferences of the Cowboy. Chap guards, tie-downs, rowel guards were all modifications invented and added because of the Cowboy's need for safety and better use of the spurs. Also needed when buying spurs are the Spur Straps.
The chap guard, generally found on the California style spurs, was put there simply to keep the Cowboy's chaps out of the rowel. Tie-downs were either chains or leather added to the spur to ride under the boot and keep the spur from angling upwards on the boot. Rowel guards, though considered decorative today, were also invested to help keep the rowels turning freely, especially if the cowboy happened to be wearing Woolies, or hair covered chaps.
Ladies Show Spurs
Designs were also sometimes added at the personal requests of the Cowboy, and sometimes even done by himself. Many a Cowboy turned his trade to Spurmaker in the 1800s.
Styles eventually became "Regional." If the Cowboy lived and worked in Texas, for instance, rather than California, the style of his spurs reflected it.
America's romance with the spur began with the Spanish, dating back to its introduction to this Continent by way of the Spanish Conquistador, Hernando Cortez in 1520. At that particular early phase in the spurs' history, the size of the rowel, (the round wheel-like part) was measuring an impressive, but cumbersome, six to eight inches around! The Grandaddy of all spurs, it was appropriately called "The Espuela Grande," or; "The Great Spur."
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