SPURS had, at first, no rowels; but were stiletto-like and long. At that epoch, the bit, called buade, was very severe; and the saddle had high pommels before and behind. The rider's legs, therefore, extended straight down; and since he could not bend his knee, he needed the long spur to counteract the too powerful effect of the bit. Even to-day the Arabs still use this type of spur, called shabir.
But with the progress of equitation, effects of force have given way to force of effects, arid the stiletto point has been superseded by rowels, severe, medium, or mild in proportion to the sharpness of their points. The choice of the right degree of severity of the rowels needed for any particular animal is governed by the creature's dullness or sensibility, and determined by the rider's equestrian tact. In any case, the horse has to be first accustomed to dull rowels and trained progressively to those more severe.
A great many sorts of rowel have been used, with various theories to explain their different forms. Practically, it is important to have the rowels turn loosely on their pivots. Otherwise, the horse's hairs may collect around them and prevent their turning at all. In that event, the points, being fixed,