Expert advice from HORSE magazine on choosing the right stud for extra grip

When you are competing outdoors it is practically impossible to guarantee perfect going underfoot, whatever the time of year. Using studs can be a sensible precaution. They can help to give your horse more confidence in his footing.

Screw-in studs

In order to fit your studs, you will first need to have threaded stud holes made in your horse’s shoes; your farrier can easily do this for a small extra cost.

Various types of screw-in studs are available, and it is worth keeping a variety so that you can choose the ones which are most appropriate to the state of the ground (see bottom right).

In dry, hard conditions use pointed ones, while large square or dome shaped ones will provide your horse with extra grip in softer, more muddy going.

Small screw-in studs are also available which are designed for use on the roads.

Permanent studs

Road studs, which are tipped with hard-wearing tungsten carbide, can be fitted to the heels of your horse’s hind shoes when he is shod. These help to give your horse extra grip when hacking out on the roads, although you may find that they don’t last as long as his shoes.

If you want to use different studs when you’re competing, however, you will need to have stud holes made. In this case, use small, removable screw-in type road studs for hacking instead

  • Don’t use screw-in studs on worn shoes. Shoes becomes thinner with wear, so the depth of the stud hole will become shallower, and the stud could cause injury to the foot.
  • Clean out stud holes and re-pack them with clean, oiled cotton wool the night before you’re going to a competition. This will make fitting the studs easier, and save you time, on the day.

  • Studs should always be removed as soon as your horse has finished competing or when you return from your hack.

    Remember to take them off before loading him, as the stud will affect the angle of his foot to the ground on hard surfaces.

    Having removed them, pack the holes with oiled cotton wool once again to help keep the threads clear of dirt.

  • Where possible (you won’t be able to in the dressage arena), put protective boots or bandages on your horse’s legs to help prevent the risk of injury caused by a stud catching his leg.
  • If you areplanning to compete in studs, make sure you warm up in them too, as they will feel different for your horse and he may need time to get used to the new feel underfoot.
  • Use a wire brush to clean the threads of the studs before using them.

Choosing the right stud

Deciding which type of studs are the most appropriate to use will depend on how sure-footed your horse is, what you want to do with him – show jumping, cross-country or dressage – and the state of the ground. Practise at home to help you find a stud which suits your horse best.

If in doubt, seek expert help, but as a general rule, follow these guidelines:

  • When riding on hard or moderate ground, choose a more pointed stud.
  • For soft, deeper going, especially when you’re jumping, choose a square or dome-shaped stud.
  • For roadwork, or for a little extra grip on grass, choose a road stud.