There are many good reasons for using horseshoe studs: They provide extra traction and gripping on slippery surfaces like grass or mud, and, because of these benefits, they can make all the difference when a rider is accelerating through sharp turns or high jumps. Horseshoe studs must be used properly, however — and that requires a thorough understanding of what to do and what not to do. So with that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top do’s and don’ts of using horseshoe studs:
- DO choose the smallest studs you can. Studs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You will need to choose the stud type based off the terrain that will be covered. Studs change the stance and the balance of your horse. This balance change increases as the stud size increases. Therefore, it is best to use the smallest studs that will work for the occasion.
- DO insert studs just before using (and remove right after). When your horse is wearing horseshoe studs, it is very easy for injuries to occur. Your horse might step on himself damaging a hoof or leg. This is one of the reasons why you should only insert studs right before riding (and remove them immediately after using). If your horse lies down, it would be very easy to cause harm to their body or legs. Your horse may also scratch themselves using their hoof. If this happens with horseshoe studs on, your horse may unintentionally inflict serious damage to an ear or other sensitive body parts. Finally, it does not feel very good to the rider to have a foot stepped on by their horse. This is especially true if your horse is wearing studs.
- DO protect your horse. The entire time your horse is wearing studs, be sure to have him wear protective horse boots, too. Leave your horse’s protective boots on until the studs are being removed. Likewise, if your horse will be taking large jumps, have him wear a belly guard or stud guard. It should always be the rider’s top priority to keep their horse safe from injury while wearing horseshoe studs.
- DO practice: Always use studs at home before trying to use them at a horseshow or event. This way, you have ample time to practice putting them on and taking them off when you and your horse are in a relaxed environment. It is also imperative for your horse to get used to the balance changes that occur with the use of studs. Being away from home is not the best time to try this out for the first time.
- DO use studs in pairs. This rule includes using one on each side of the hoof as well as on both the left and right hoof. Failure to do so could cause your horse balance and traction issues. Use similar height studs on the inside and outside of the shoe to provide better balance. When using grass tip type studs, place a duller stud to the inside to prevent your horse from injuring himself.
- DO plug your stud holes when your horse is not using the studs. If you leave the stud holes unplugged in your horseshoes and put your horse on pasture, it’s easy for dirt and debris to get stuck inside, closing up your stud holes. Fill the holes with rubber, cotton, or foam plugs or stud blanks. Forgetting to plug your stud holes can cause damage to the shoe threads and also potentially injure your horse.
- DON’T place studs on a horse with signs of lameness. You should never put studs on a lame horse, so if your horse shows any signs of leg injury, don’t insert studs.
- DON’T put a horse on hard surfaces in studs. Hard surfaces and studs don’t mix. This includes horse trailers, paved roads, and cement, to name a few. Since the studs will be unable to sink into the hard surface, the studs will put undue pressure and stress on your horse’s legs.
In addition to the above tips, try to get an experienced farrier to show you how to insert the studs into horseshoes. Also, never leave your horse unattended with the studs inserted. By following all of these tips, you will help ensure the safety of your horse while getting the best use from your horseshoe studs.
Jessica Adcock is a lifelong equestrian and a member of the e-commerce team at Dover Saddlery, a leading retailer of quality English horse tack, supplies and riding apparel for horse and rider.